As inventive as instructive, information wheels-or volvelles-have been used since the fourteenth century to measure, record, predict, and calculate everything form time and space to military history and recipes. In this fascinating book, designer and critic Jessica Helfand offers and in-depth look at these unique artifacts, which are not only clever and amusing-where else could you dial-in ingredients to concoct "Creamed Oysters and Celery"?-but, Helfand argues, relevant as a model for modern interactive design. From circular mathematical slide rules to Captain Marvel phonetic decoders; from nuclear bomb blast calculators to gestational breeding planners; and from astronomical planispheres to presidential trivia plotters, Reinventing the Wheel demonstrates the astonishing range and remarkable utility of these ingenious "interactive" tools.
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Jessica Helfand is partner with William Drenttel in Jessica Helfand/William Drenttel, a design consultancy. She has been collecting wheels for several years.From Library Journal:
This thoroughly unusual book by designer and critic Helfand will delight graphic, information, and book designers. It will equally fascinate those interested in intellectual history, history of technology, and popular culture. Helfand begins with an essay that interweaves the history of wheel charts with humanity's fascination with the circle. The earliest volvelles (graduated movable paper circles-within-circles), as they are also called, are found in Renaissance astronomy texts. They offer data on celestial cycles, movements of the heavenly bodies, and the tides. Illustrations of these early texts are beautifully reproduced here. Other volvelles, such as the planisphere, a kind of manual computer used to reveal the portion of the night sky visible from a particular spot on earth, are discussed. The 20th century saw a mass audience develop for volvelles, representing an enormous range of topics from astronomy to American history to zoology, and the major portion of this book is devoted to full-page illustrations of these. Readers interested in information design will seek this out, while those interested in book and graphic design will be thrilled by the surprise. Includes footnotes and bibliography. For large libraries. Michael Dashkin, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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