A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7500 images, 3.9 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, The Paris Review, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 4,000+ total posts
"For this condition, I will prescribe, for your information, a marvelous cure, the result of my experience in such cases. Take a precious stone we call sapphire. Powder it most thoroughly in a metal mortar and store it in a golden vase. Put a little into the patient's eye every day and he will soon be cured "--from the Medieval medical text De Oculis, by Benevenutus Grassus, Stanford University Press, 1929, page 58.
Admittedly I was more interested in the illustrations in this work1 than the text, mainly (and obviously) because the images are so striking. The text is in its way a pre-scientific attempt at 'curing" color blindness, which is a genetic disorder. The color wheels ("variable speed rotary color vision stimulator") were intended to be rotated to produce different color senses for "color vision stimulation"--it could be used to determine whether or not color vision was being "improved".
Most of the work was a sales vehicle for Dr. Newton's color blindness color regenerators, or whatever, all of which could be obtained from his office in Oakland. I guess Dr. Newton was trying, but...
Earlier in this blog appeared a happy little post of odd uses of color to illustrate color, black and white to illustrate color, and nothing to illustrate something called "Three Map Fits: a Color Map with Color and No Map, a Color Map in Black & White; AND a Black & White Map in White (only)" here. There was an appearance there of a small pamphlet by Albert Coble (Games of Colors, Kindergarten and Primary Exercises). on the uses of color in kindergartens in which color exercises were presented though no color was actually employed in the illustration, though the general arrangement is clear enough:
It is a happy thing that there is a second Coble pamphlet on hand (!, Color Exercises (The Coble Color Tests) Instructions for Primary and Kindergarten Work, 1923 ) and this one though still in black and white now has color designations:
The idea that Coble is writing about (color and kids and the education of young children in the different forms/varieties of color and how colors are produced) is very interesting, and no doubt that the set of color blocks used in the exercises would have been lovely in themselves, but I think the author would have made more headway had he had at least one color illustration.
That said, the world of black & white and grays is a lovely one, and as long as we're talking about black & white in color, let's look at a pamphlet that is all about black & black. Egyptian Lacquer Manufacturing Company ("Rockefeller Center, NY, NY") specialized in heavy industrial paints and published some small but fine catalogs to sell their services and products. One of them, Egyptian Black Lacquer for Industrial Products (1938) contains a paint chip plate to compare its various blacks. There is nothing finer, really, than a really black black, an all-out black, a midnight-and-no-light-source black, a B-1 stealth bomber black, a Sommerfeld black. And Egyptian comes really close to a good solid black black, what they called their "dead black". I can't reproduce it here and give this black any justice, as it is hard to reproduce a black with no lustre that isn't that lacquer/paint itself--but trust this writer, these blacks in real life are as differentiated as their names imply:
Dr. Benway lining up his colors before weighing them...
Jarring experiences are good as displacers of the stuff that you've come to know without knowing and without explanation because they make you think about these things--along with thinking about why you haven't though about thinking about them. For example, color: on the low end there is seeing Cary Grant in color (which is half-expected) and then seeing Humphrey Bogart (which is less so). Seeing Star Trek in color for the first time in 1967 at my grandparents' house (a small miracle in that they only could receive a few stations with a good antenna given the mountains and such in that beautiful and then two-season Great Barrington MA).
I'm reminded of this today while looking through a decorating pamphlet by Johns-Manville from 1941. The images of the interiors of the Standard American Home started out in the pamphlet in black and white, and then, suddenly, came the appearance of color--and a lot of it, and in unexpected combinations. And then: unexpected colors in the unexpected color. And in this case, perhaps the new color scheme is not one that is today seen as a beautiful thing.
Color in magazines and journals and newspaper was of great rarity before 1939, as color roll film was really introduced until the mid-20's, and then the first book illustrated with color photographs didn't appear until I think 1938 (was it an Agfa catalog, or Zeiss?). In any event, the book/pamphlet illustrated with color photos was still a very newish thing when these photos appeared in the Johns-Manville The Home Idea Book1of 1941
It is an unusual exercise--for me, anyway, a mostly b+w guy--to imagine these colors, together. It is also surprising because my experience with so many of these catalogs is from an earlier period and the majority of them were illustrated with black and white photos or color drawings, or colorized photos. To see the color of the real walls and doors and tiles and carpeting is jarring.
Nothing quite says no-color as German deep noir of the mid- and late-1920's. These movies can be so deep and contrasted, so very black-and-white, with such stark Moon-like shadows, no dawn or dusk just night and day, that it can make you forget that outside of the photographs and movies that people were moving around in great swirls of color. And nothing quite helps you to remember this than by having a look at a book like one below, a DIY piece printed in Berlin in 1927, the Farbige Wohraume1.
It is of interest here because in addition to blueprints and sections of the furniture to be built, there are associated illustrations showing the completed work placed in a decorated room. And it just so happens that these rooms are highly, colorfully decorated--not that there's so much in the room, per se, but there is definitely a lot of color.
1. Farbige Wohnräume, 24 Tafeln farbig dargestellter neuzeitlicher Räume (5 Wohn-, 6 Speise-, 6 Herren-und 7 Schlafzimmer) mit den einzelnen Nöbeln im Masstab 1:20. Dazu weitere 24 Tafeln mit den zur Anfertigung erforderlichen Grund- und Aufrissen und Detailschnitten einschliessich der Sitzmöbel. Berlin, Verlagsanstalt Deutschen Holzbeiter Verbanes GMBH. Rebound in library cloth, very nice, workable copy. 37x26cc, 24 color plates of room designs, followed by 24 heavy leaves of associated blueprints printed front and back, these showing a profile of the furniture to be constructed on recto and some cutting instructions on verso. The color illustrations of the furniture in a room setting is correlated with the blueprints in rear, each of the color plates with a corresponding sheet of blueprints. Only four copies located in WorldCat: Yale, University of Illinois, Grand Rapids Public Library, and Cornell.
Well: this is a variation of yesterday's post on the two opposite edges of color in oddly-applied scientific/technical manners. In unwittingly responding to the question "when is color-use bad?", the answers were found in these room decorations from 1942, all of which come from a pamphlet entitled Ideas for Old Rooms and New, extracted from the mind of Hapel (?) Dell Brown. It is a tidy book with ideas that are anything but tidy;and as you scroll down you'll see that the room solutions suggested by Hapel Del are anti-tidy; clutterous (no, not a word but could be). Everything about these creations speaks to the annihilation of visual resting places; everything seems to be an affront to the concept of causal emptiness. The weird thing is that there aren't very many objects in these rooms at all (at least comparing these rooms from where I'm sitting)--the visual complaints seem all rocketing from the abuse of colors found in the fabric of the furniture and walls and floors and window treatments. The eye gets no rest--and as a matter of fact, the cones of the eyeball are impaled on the rods as a result of the author/decorator desperate attempts to invent three more primary colors.
Believe it or not we don't really get the full flavor of the color cacophony because the floors in these picture look sort of benign, fading away into themselves--which they are not, according to the description in the text, because they are all high-gloss linoleum rolls or tiles ("efused [sic] with deep wondrous color". And that means not only are these floors adding sheen and color to the rest of the incredibly colorful--an effect fairly lost in these photos--they are also cold.
One thing that I haven't pointed out in this peon to syrupy/pastel-y/techno-gelatinous-chromodrama is that they were all done in response to a re-decoration of a perfectly nice-looking house, with all of the former "bland" colonial-style rooms presented in glorious black and white. I'd rather live in Maison Noir than in this happy nightmare.
Its easy to assume a modern prejudice regarding the interior decoration of 1910-1940 school rooms, allowing a certain conceit and picturing them in shades of gray, the images formed being "colored" by the images of those things that we have seen, almost all of which have turned up in black-and-white photographs or movies. But of course we know that this can't be true, and that Humphrey Bogart didn't always wear a gray worsted in his movies, and didn't move that gray suit through gray rooms. Its just that the image-formation is influenced by what we've seen, and since what we've seen of these rooms is mostly without color, then our images are difficult to assemble outside black-and-white. This applies to just about everything from that era, which explains why it is such a glorious shock to see motion pictures or photographs of (say) New York City street scenes from 1944. (And why is it such a jolt to the visual system to learn that police cars in Chicago during the 1933 World's Fair were orange?)
Confectionary connections to interesting bumps in history wind their ways along many unusual paths. One such story is that of physician/scientist/collector Hans Sloane (1660-1753) and his introduction of chocolate into England (as a result of a field expedition he took to Jamaica)--his involvement with chocolate was minor compared to everything else he did in his life, but the introduction of chocolate to coffee houses in London was not. In any event it was his massive and superior collection of natural history samples, archaeological artifacts, and much else, that became the basis for the British Museum--the collections purchased from his estate for 20,000 pounds at the time of his death.
Another example of a weirder candyland adventure is that of Charles Gunther (1837-1920), who was the driving force of moving the infamous Confederate Libby Prison to Chicago in 1893 to house his own collections of Civil War memorabilia and other interesting and Mondo Bizarro things. (He claimed to have--on exhibition--the original skin of the serpent from the Garden of Eden, complete in some sort of original frame decked out in Egyptian gibberishglyphics.) Here's an ad that appeared in the Confederate Veteran's first year of publication in 1893:
I wouldn't use the term "great" here--and I'm pretty sure that the word is being misused here in 1893 as well.
The prison was actually a converted tobacco factory, the buildings of which were constructed from 1845-1852, and located in central Richmond at Main and 25th Streets. Poor Luther Libby--a Mainer--came into possessions of the buildings for his business, which was subsequently seized by the Confederate government at the beginning of the war and converted into a hospital/officer's prison before it became the symbol of mistreatment and deprivation and harshness. (Mr. Libby had nothing to do with the prison per se--he was just the last person with his name on the buildings. He outlived the prison-with-his-name-on-it by 15 years--12 years if you count the use of the building to house Confederate leadership after the end of the war.)
Gunther collected big stuff, the biggest being the prison. He purchased it and had it dismantled, shipped up to Chicago, and then reassembled (with the help and advice of the prestigious architecture/design firm of Burnham and Root) where it operated as a museum from 1889-1895. Sensing a brighter future for the property, Gunther dismantled the building selling off chunks of it as souvenirs, and built a convention center on the site, filling the need for meeting space from the burning of the Chicago Coliseum in 1897.
This post could have gone another way very easily, winding up in the Things Out of Place Department--Libby in Chicago, the Statue of Liberty in Paris, London Bridge in Arizona, a duplicate Earth in the sky above the Earth,and so on--perhaps this on another day.
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1282--continued, & now with the Full Text book!
[Earlier in this blog, about 1200 posts ago, a million words ago, I wrote about an extraordinary book by an aesthetician named Emily Vanderpoel. It is "extraordinary" in a narrower sense, and that "extraordinary" might not actually be positive for its original intent. The extra-intent of the book, what has come out of it for me, was something that was unintentionally accomplished by the author. The images that she used to illustrate her color theory ideas--the basis of which are not really comprehensible to me--turn out to be artwork in themselves, a found art, the artistry of the images taking over the original intention for the arrangement of their color. I've found the book now at the Internet Archive in all of its glory, and downloaded only 150 times. I'm still at a loss to know why this work hasn't received more attention
The idea of how we put parameters to something like the visual field is a gargantuan topic—it is something that architects and geometers and physicists and mathematicians (in general) have dealt with forever.
The full text is available HERE via Internet Archive. Mapmakers have perhaps the most visualized aspect of this on paper, performing the semi-miracle of translating three dimensions into two; physicists have a more difficult time, taking the opposite approach, sort of , and translating two or three dimensional space into x-number of dimensions. Anatomists had a difficult time of their subject until relatively recently in human history, what with the sublime religious curfews on messy knowledge and all coming into play, poking around into the heart and such as though it was an affront to the sanctity of the creator (M Servetus’ ideas on the circulation of the blood via the heart, making the heart a tool and not the brain or some odd conjunction of creative divine power, cost him his life, burning slowly alive at the stake…how mysterious the whole world of RNA Genotype-Phenotype Mapping and such would seem to him if he could have a peek into the future/present from wherever he is.) Color theory is old and pretty—as a matter of fact there is a very attractive gathering of color theory models (in black and white, though) displaying some two dozen or more color models from the last 400 years. People like Della Porta (1593), our old friend and resident oddball polymath crank Kircher (1646), the smarter-than-you-could-imagine Newton (1660), Waller (1686), Lambert (1772), the wide ranging and again polymathic Goethe (1792), Herschel (1817, who also ushered in our understanding of the other light-sensitive shape spacing medium of photography in 1840), the semi-forgotten Chevreul (1835), the beautiful Maxwell (1857), Wundt (1874, the early experimental psychologist who also looked for spirits/spiritmus and ghosts), von Bezold (1878), Rood (1879), Munsell (1918) Kandinsky (1914 and not decipherable by me) and Klee (1924), and so on towards the present, all tried to analyze the prospects of color.
Not in this list is the very highly problematic Emily Vanderpoel, who in 1901 and 1903 produced (in two editions) a lovely but mysterious book called Color Problems for the Layman, in which she sought not so much to analyze the components of color itself, but rather to quantify the overall interpretative effect of color on the imagination. I know this sounds begging and vague, but I really haven’t been able to make much headway in the work.
I’m attracted to this effort because of its attempt at quantifying such abstract thoughts.
By virtue of this effort, though, Vanderpoel had produced a strikingly illustrated book, with 118 color plates, all very intense, and beautiful, and in its way exceptional—unique for it time perhaps. Had the book been written thirty years or so hence we’d call it some sort of constructivist/constructionist artform. But since the artwork in the book comes a decade before the first non-representational artwork in human history (or so), I don’t know exactly what to call it. I really don’t know what it is, but I know that it is not entirely accidental, this pre-non-representational artform, because controlled geometrical color art is not accidental.
In trying to quantify the color images of the objects in her study, Vanderpoel establishes a 10x10 square grid, dividing all of the color in that object into individual units numbering to 100. Then, somehow, she identifies the major colors and places them according to a system that I cannot understand within the grid.
The net effect is glorious. I just don’t know how she got there—which isn’t normally a consideration in art, except that this work is an instructional on how to understand color in art and nature, and the explanation of the procedure is ethereal. Vanderpoel was and remains a respected author on porcelains and other applied and plastic arts. In this work she looked at her fair share of porcelain, limogues, clay pots, burial urns, glass shards, and the like; she also analyzed clouds, mummy cloths (and casings), dew on morning grass, brocade, the eye of a blue jay, feathers, and another hundred or so poetic arragenments of the stuff of teh world. I still do not know what this book is trying to tell me, but I do know that it is remarkable.
"Colour Blindess in Relation to the Homeric Expressions for Colour", from Nature Magazine, volume 18, p. 676, 1878.
"In an article on "The Colour Sense" in the Number of the Nineteenth Century for October last, Mr. Gladstone points out certain peculiarities…in the expressions of colour used by Homer. "Although" he says "this writer has used light in various forms for his purposes with perhaps greater splendor and effect than any other poet, yet the colour adjectives and colour descriptions of the poems are not only imperfect but highly ambiguous and confused". And again-"we find that his sense of colour was not only narrow, but also vague, and wanting in description".
[Part of the series on Color and its Abuses, as with an example of "When Color is Best in Black-and-White", here.] Nothing quite says no-color as German deep noir of the mid- and late-1920's. These movies can be so deep and contrasted, so very black-and-white, with such stark Moon-like shadows, no dawn or dusk just night and day, that it can make you forget that outside of the photographs and movies that people were moving around in great swirls of color. And nothing quite helps you to remember this than by having a look at a book like one below, a DIY piece printed in Berlin in 1927, the Farbige Wohraume1.
It is of interest here because in addition to blueprints and sections of the furniture to be built, there are associated illustrations showing the completed work placed in a decorated room. And it just so happens that these rooms are highly, colorfully decorated--not that there's so much in the room, per se, but there is definitely a lot of color. [This book is available from our blog bookstore, here.]
I remember that the floor of my grandmother's beauty salon (in Great Barrington, Massachusetts) was a dark (gray on black?) rolled linoleum affair, not much different from the floors that you'd see (if you could see them) in black and white movies from the 1930's. Grandma's floors were probably that old--my memory is from the early 1960's and the salon was far older than that--and so they looked like you'd expect an old, shiny, kept floor to look. Plus you'd never really see floors in those older films, anyway, so it was difficult to see even if there was a design, let alone imaging a color.
That's why it is so surprising to see magnificently-colored floors in catalogs such as Armstrong Cork Company's Better Floor for Better Business (1936) and Home Decorator's Idea Book (1931). (Both of these booklets are available for purchase from our blog bookstore.) Color wasn't invented after World War II--it just seems that way. Color photographs, color home films and color motion pictures really didn't get a popular start until then, so it might be natural to assume that the world was a bit more bland in shades of gray before then.
All the same, these floors are so terrifically colorful that they look to me to be like a tiny design writ large--like a design for nightclub's matchbook cover done on a 500 square foot canvas.
[This is a kindergarten room, by the way.]
See what I mean? These floors are beautiful in a way that escapes beauty. I don't particularly like them nor would I want to live on them, but they do have a certain inescapable loveliness to them that is just not beautiful. Perhaps it is the odd juxtaposition of unexpected color. This is seen in sharper detail (left) in a post that a made ("There Was a Rubber Lady in a Rubber Room...) earlier in this blog. Or maybe it is the unexpected combination of colors, or the unexpectedness of the colors themselves, that is the driver to this lusciousness.
And then there are the swastikas.
Now the swastika is a very, very old symbol, thousands of years old, transcontinental, transoceanic, a transcendental image that was completely and forever corrupted by the National Socialist Party, a shameful symbol, a symbol turned into a hatefuil and horrible thing in just 20 years or so, overtaking two millenia of use. And here we are, in the early- and mid-1930's, during the time of the Nazis and Hitler and their free use of the swastika, here we are with this Armstrong firm from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, still using the swastika in design elements for their floors.
(Here's one page of floor design elements from the Armstrong catalog at left; and the detail for design number three at right.)
Armstrong was also in the heart of some country within the United States (Lancaster) that was very rich in symbolist design, but I think that this has nothing to do with anything. I'm also not making th case for their being fascist leanings at Armstrong--I'm simply pointing out that even as late as 1938 (when another edition of this work appeared again with swastika design) that the image was still acceptable enough to have as part of a part of a floor. It strikes me as deeply odd.
Here's another example from the 1936 catalog (and just to be perfectly clear I'm not highlighting the swastika part--it is offset in different colors in the originals):
I'm not seeing Nazis in my porridge, though Madison Sqaure Garden was still getting filled up by American Nazis for their German Bund meeting in 1936--I'm just pointing out that it seems surpising that the symbol was still being used in popular design as late as it was.
In the earliest part of the printed history of picturing scary things everything left the printer in black and white. The colorist added the necessary tinting and fright stuff, though it seems to me that the sheets that made it through to binding in black and white were the most disturbing of them all. Most of the time and for several centuries color was left to the desire of the individual, the purchaser of the book; the green of dragons or the reds of monster men or yellows of serpents were mostly given life by the buyer. Color printing had to wait more than three hundred years
after Gutenberg’s Bible–there was some multi-color printing for grammars and the like where words and phrases were printed in multiple colors, requiring numerous passes through the press, but by and large the color printing of artwork was more a 19th century thing more than anything else. My own preference is for black and white images that let the mind fill in the beasts from outside in, allowing the imagination to run with the text and the description of the beast, rather than fast-forwarding to the completed images. It is these images, the black and whites, which have retained some element of scary or creepy over the years; the colored images don’t make it quite so well.
Color does makes some unexpected contributions to scariness, and in uncommon places. For example, this photo
from a 1933 Chicago World’s Fair pamphlet for the exhibitor Durkee Famous Foods fits the ticket perfectly. It is an image of a sandwich loaf that is made mainly with scrapings of ham and lots of Durkee products, which were things like mayonnaise, oleomargarine, cheese squeezings, tapioca, coconut oil, salad dressings and vegetable shortening. The color of the object only heightens the creepiness of its contents, all of which was topped by a layering of mayonnaise and cream cheese studded with olives.
Admittedly this color photograph comes at the earliest stages of the modern aspect of color photography, and perhaps the engineers were a little too anxious at spreading their food-color, it still just isn't good. Here’s the recipe:
There's also this incredible plate (below), having some sort of internal color dialog with itself, though manifested externally--it must not be a pretty conversation. House of La
Rosa.101 Ways to Prepare Macaroni seems
about as benign and forgettable a title that one could write; that said, once
opened, this little pamphlet poured its heart out to the Naïve Surreal in us
all with the unforgettable (and accurate) color images of the promised linguine
And of course there are innumerable examples of architectural bits:
And even when beautiful, color can be scary, as in the case of the very highly problematic Oliver Byrne, whose work restructuring the explanation of the first six books of Euclid is inversely useful to its great beauty.
As unsettling as these color images may be, none come quite so close to being a truly visceral experience as does the Durkee sandwich loaf. These other color examples are just simply wrong; but the Durkee food product, slathered in oil and leftover, is just so wrong it isn't even wrong anymore.
There is an invisible thread running through this blog on the history of squares, starting with Euclid and winding its way through Mondrian, Klee and Malevich and Boullee, atom bomb resistant countries, pixels, perfect, Times, magic, and so on. I don't think that I've ever touched on what might be my own solitary and perhaps-wrong observation on the preponderance of green squares in 1950's linoleum flooring. As I said, this might be because of my own faulty receptors--and even if I'm slightly correct the color I think doesn't mean or imply anything in particular. Perhaps the abundance of green comes from a left-over paint or dye that a manufacturer decided to bump into flooring; or perhaps green just looked better to the readers of LIFE magazine than other colors. Be that as it may, there is some loose strand of memory that gets activated every time I see green squares in flooring of the 1950's, and I just wanted to say that I noticed it.
JF Ptak Science Books Post 1056 (First post in our History of Noses series)
There is an entire dictionary of explanations for this odd image (appearing in LIFE magazine for 14 September 1953). Here's a candidate launched from this blog's Museum of Impossible Things department: the photograph accompanies a newspaper clipping from the Library of Congress' Newspaper Clippings Collections!, an above-the-fold front-page obituary for a man with an unusual obsession, as follows:
[Source: Obituary from the Stationary News, from At, Texas. ] <clip> "The Mystery of the Secret Painter of At, Solved!" <clip>
"Gileless, Newton. After a long illness of undescribed origin and affect, Mr Newton Gileless, at home. Newton was born in Aint, Texas before moving to At in 1916 “to get away from the negativeness”. He had few friends and distant neighbors, and was fond of keeping overturned muffin-stuffed cowboy boots on his fence posts. He donated hard pancakes to the bench-sitting old men down by the Rexall, and kept a large box at the Post Office."
"Mr. Gileless’ prime mover of community interest was his secretive painting practices. For decades Mr. Gileless could be seen scurrying around town, or at in the fields, or along the dusty roads, or at the stream near the peach trees, carrying a large easel with a canvas attached with yards of "paintin' rope".. He could be seen painting but only from a distance, as distance of quietness seemed the enabler for his painterly ambitions. The object of his interests was not known"
"Mr. Gileless’ estate was left to Bo Tanger, the regional coroner, who administered the last wishes and who revealed the close secret. “I finally got to see what Newton was painting”, said Tanger, "and its odd, even for here, where people's business is their own in private, and his was public-private".
[Photo: 2nd grade class with their happy bequest of Mr. Gileless' artwork at At, Texas Primary School.]
"Mr. Gileless' continued artist pursuit was painting Color-by-Numbers portraits of Vaudevillean, comic and movie actor Jimmy Durante. There were more than 6,250 of these portraits found in Gileless' barn. His will instructs (and provides the funds for) their distribution to 'as many good Texan second-graders as possible. Yes.' And so it was this that Mr. Gileless was painting in his secret painterly way, painting again and again, hoping for the colors to improve with exposure to different surroundings, especially and evidently en plein air."
"When overly prompted on the mysterious Durante muse, Mr. Tang responded: 'Well sir, I don't know. But Durante has showbusiness' biggest nose, and Mr Gilieless had but a scant smidgeon. Maybe it was soulful envy.' " --Buck Smeal for the At Tattler Texas, 1 September 1953.
Notes. 1. The Library of Congress decided in the midst of a space-saving fit to save only “necessary” bits from its newspaper collections and to discard the rest. “We aren’t Mr. Borges”, one library staffer volunteered, “and we just thought that all of the other challenged stuff had to go”. The Library’s reduction removed 92% of the newspaper collection “bulk”. Another source said that “if you look at it in one way, what we dumped was mostly nothing, ‘cause the printed page is mostly white space and unused”.
What,exactly, is going on in this photo? Yes they're all helping to sell the delightful and refreshing pop soda called "7 Up", but there's something just off with each and every element.
What is the story with the girl/woman on the trike, holding her bottle of pop as though it was the sudsy stuff? She also must be at least 16 years old and looks a little possessed in having to wear those clothes in that pose. She's staring into the chest of the kid at left, who for some reason is wearing a heavy and shiny green coat there in the basement rumpus room. Manchild Junior takes careful aim with his big dart as dad sits staring at the dartboard, waiting for his eyes to collect the darts as though they were magnetic dust in his eyeball magnet. Mom seems to be plasticized and propped up against the fireplace, her bottle at an odd angle used only for toasting. In All of this extends to the bottle, which hasn't a single word on it, unless you cleave away the "up" from "7up"--there's just truncated words and an incongruous woman in a bathing suit on the label.
In short: the photo has a low-suburban mid-creep distant-color affect, kind of like a human landscape version of a Joel Meyerowitz photograph.