Comic Sans Turns 25: Graphic Designer Vincent Connare Explains Why He Created the Most Hated Font in the World

What we write reveals who we are, but so, and often more clearly, does how we write. And in an age when handwriting has given way to typing, how we write has much to do with which font we use. Many of us play it safe, rarely straying from the realm of twelve-point Times New Roman hypernormality, but even there "type is a voice; its very qualities and characteristics communicate to readers a meaning beyond mere syntax." That observation comes from the Ban Comic Sans Manifesto, drawn up two decades ago by graphic designers Holly and David Combs as a strike against the font that, 25 years after its creation, remains a hate object of choice for the visually literate everywhere.

"You don’t like that your coworker used me on that note about stealing her yogurt from the break room fridge?" asks Comic Sans itself, ventriloquized in McSweeney's by Mike Lacher. "You don’t like that I’m all over your sister-in-law’s blog? You don’t like that I’m on the sign for that new Thai place? You think I’m pedestrian and tacky?" Well, tough: "People love me. Why? Because I’m fun. I’m the life of the party. I bring levity to any situation. Need to soften the blow of a harsh message about restroom etiquette? SLAM. There I am. Need to spice up the directions to your graduation party? WHAM. There again. Need to convey your fun-loving, approachable nature on your business’ website? SMACK."




In the Great Big Story video above, Comic Sans creator Vincent Connare tells his side of the story. While employed at Microsoft in the early 1990s, he saw a prototype version of Microsoft Bob, a kind of add-on to the Windows interface designed for maximum user friendliness. It featured onscreen animal characters that spoke in speech bubbles, but the words in those speech bubbles appeared in what was everyone's default font. When it hit him that "dogs don’t talk in Times New Roman," Connare, a graphic-novel fan, got to work on a typeface for the speech bubbles modeled on the lettering by John Costanza in The Dark Knight Returns and by Dave Gibbons in Watchmen.

Comic Sans didn't make it into Microsoft Bob, it did make it into a somewhat more successful Microsoft product: Windows 95, which David Kadavy at Design for Hackers calls "the first operating system to really hit it big. Just as computers were starting to pop up in nearly every home in America, Windows 95 was finding itself installed on all of those computers, and with it, the font Comic Sans. So now, nearly every man, woman, child, and bake sale organizer find themselves armed with publishing power unlike civilization had ever seen; and few of them really had any design sense." Then came the internet boom, which meant that "instead of flyers posted in break rooms, Comic Sans was showing up on websites, and even as the default font for many people’s emails. Now, any one person could write a message that could potentially be read by millions, in Comic Sans."

What makes Comic Sans so reviled? Kadavy points to several reasons having to do with typographical aesthetics, including awkward weight distribution ("weight" being the thickness of its lines) and poor letterfit (meaning that its letters don't, or can't, sit well next to each other). But the problem most of us notice is that "Comic Sans isn’t used as intended": A typeface meant only for speech bubbles in Microsoft Bob has somehow become one of the most popular in the world, appearing unsuitably in everything from Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert's open letter on the departure of LeBron James to CERN's announcement of evidence of the Higgs boson particle to, just last month, a letter from Donald Trump's lawyer's to the House Intelligence Committee.

Through it all, Connare himself — who has designed such relatively respectable typefaces as Trebuchet, and has famously only used Comic Sans once, in a complaint letter to his cable company — has kept his sense of humor, as evidenced by his talk entitled "Comic Sans Is the Best Font in the World." Even the Combs' movement has changed its name, if not without irony, into "Use Comic Sans." Pieces marking the font's 25th anniversary include "Hating Comic Sans Is Not a Personality" by The New York Times' Emma Goldberg and "In Bad Taste or Not, I’ll Keep My Comic Sans" by The Washington Post's Joseph Epstein (published, entirely and courageously, in Comic Sans). If you love the font, Connare often says, you don't know much about typography, but if you hate it, "you should get another hobby." Besides, the story of Comic Sans also contains an important life lesson: "You have to do things that aren't beautiful sometimes."

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

The Difference Between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England: A (Pre-Brexit) Video Explains

I once played in a New York pub band with an Englishman, a Northern Irishman, and a Scotsman. This is not the setup for a joke. (We weren't that bad!) But I had questions. Were they all from different countries or different parts of one country called Britain, or Great Britain, or the grander-sounding United Kingdom?

British history could be a contentious subject in such company, and no wonder given that the violence of the Empire began at home, or with the neighboring people who were absorbed—sometimes, partly, but not always—against their will into a larger entity. So, what to call that territory of the crown which once claimed one fourth of the world as its own property?




CGP Grey, maker of the YouTube explainer above, aims to clear things up in five minutes, offering his own spin on British imperial history along the way. The United Kingdom is a “country of countries that contains inside it four coequal and sovereign nations,” England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. “You can call them all British,” says Grey, but “it’s generally not recommended as the four countries generally don’t like each other.”

Like it or not, however, they are all British citizens of “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” Still confused? Well, Britain and the United Kingdom name the same country. But “Great Britain” is a geographical term that includes Scotland, England, and Wales, but not Northern Ireland. As a “geographical rather than a political term,” Great Britain sounds silly when used to describe nationality.

But it gets a bit more complicated. All of the countries located within Great Britain have neighboring islands that are not part of Great Britain, such as the Hebrides, Shetland and Orkney Islands, and Isles of Anglesey and Wight. Ireland is a geographical term for the land mass encompassing two nations: Northern Ireland, which is part of Britain, or the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, which—as you know—is decidedly not.

All of these countries and “countries of countries” are part of the European Union, says Grey, at which point it becomes clear that the video, posted in 2011, did not anticipate any such thing as Brexit. Nonetheless, this information holds true for the moment, though that ugly saga is sure to reach some resolution eventually, at which point, who knows what new maps, independence referenda, and border wars will arise, or resurrect, on the British Isles.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Behold Félix Nadar’s Pioneering Photographs of the Paris Catacombs (1861)

As a tourist in England, one may be persuaded to pick a piece of merchandise with the now-ubiquitous slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On,” from a little-displayed World War II motivational poster rediscovered in 2000 and turned into the 21st-century's most cheeky emblem of stiff-upper-lip-ness. Travel across the Channel, however, and you’ll find another version of the sentiment, drawn not from war memorabilia but the ancient warning of memento mori.

“Keep Calm and Remember You Will Die” say magnets, key chains, and other souvenirs emblazoned with the logo of the Paris Catacombs, a major tourist attraction that sells timed tickets “to manage the large queue that forms daily outside the nondescript entrance on the Place Denfert-Rochereau (formerly called the Place d’Enfer, or Hell Square),” writes Allison Meier at Public Domain Review. Still profoundly creepy, the Catacombs were once as forbidding to descend into as their walls of skulls and bones are to gaze upon, requiring visitors to carry flaming torches into their depths.

When pioneering photographer Félix Nadar “descended into this ‘empire of death’ in the 1860s artificial lighting was still in its infancy.” Using Bunsen batteries “and a good deal of patience,” Nadar captured the Catacombs as they had never been seen. He also documented the completion of “artistic facades” of skulls and long bones, built “to hide piles of other bones,” notes Strange Remains, from an estimated six million corpses exhumed from overcrowded Parisian cemeteries in the 18th and 19th centuries.




Nadar (the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, born 1820), helped turn the Catacombs into the globally famous destination they became. His “subterranean photographs,” writes Matthew Gandy in The Fabric of Space: Water, Modernity, and the Urban Imagination, “played a key role in fostering the growing popularity of sewers and catacombs among middle-class Parisians, and from the 1867 Exposition onward the city authorities began offering public tours of underground Paris.” The Catacombs became, in Nadar's own words, "one of those places that everyone wants to see and no one wants to see again."

Visitors came seeking the grim fascinations they had seen in Nadar’s photos, taken during a “single three-month campaign,” Meier notes, sometime in 1861, after the photographer “pioneered new approaches to artificial light.” The project was an irresistible photographic essay on the leveling force of mortality. In an essay titled “Paris Above and Below,” published in the 1867 Exposition guide, Nadar described the “egalitarian confusion of death,” in which “a Merovingian king remains in eternal silence next to those massacred in September ’92.”

The ancient and the modern dead, peasants, aristocrats, victims of the Revolutionary terror all piled together, “every trace implacably lost in the unaccountable clutter of the most humble, the anonymous.” The huge necropolis initially had no shape or order. Its 19th century redesign reflected that of the Parisian streets above. In 1810, Napoleon authorized quarries inspector Héricart de Thury to undertake a renovation that accounted for what Thury called “the intimate rapport that will surely exist between the Catacombs and the events of the French Revolution.”

This “rapport” not only included the “mass burial of the victims of the 1792 September Massacres” Nadar references in his essay, but also, Meier points out, the arrangement of bones in “patterns, rows, and crosses; altars and columns were installed below the earth. Plaques with evocative quotations were added to encourage visitors to reflect on mortality.” Because of the long exposure times the photographs required, Nadar used mannequins to stand in for the living workers who completed this work. The only living body he captured was his own, in the self-portrait above.

Learn more about the history of the Catacombs and Nadar’s now-legendary photographic project at Public Domain Review and see many more memento mori images here.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Pretty Much Pop #18 Discusses Stephen King’s Media Empire

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is PMP-Stephen-Kings-Media-Empire-400-x-800.jpg

Is the most popular writer of our time actually a good writer? Or maybe he used to be good but has long since run out of inspiration? What are the most effective ways to adapt these very readable short stories and novels? Does showing us the evil in a film lessen its impact? While you've been thinking about those questions, King has already written another book.

Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt share their experiences with and opinions about King's oeuvre and the films and shows that have come out of it, including It, "The Body" (aka Stand By Me), The Shining, In the Tall Grass, The Dark Tower, The Stand, Children of the Corn, From a Buick 8, Under the Dome, The Outsider, Mr. Mercedes, Castle Rock, Pet Sematary, Misery, The Shawshank Redemption, and more.

Some articles we read to prepare for this discussion include:

If you've never actually read a Stephen King novella, go ahead and read "The Body."

This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network. Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

 

Watch J.S. Bach’s “Air on the G String” Played on the Actual Instruments from His Time

There is no wrong way to listen to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. You may prefer the austere, idiosyncratic piano interpretations of Glenn Gould; you may prefer the groundbreaking analog-synthesizer renditions painstakingly recorded by Wendy Carlos (whose early fans included Gould himself); or you may prefer faithful performances using only the instruments extant in the late 17th to mid-18th century period in which Bach lived. In that last case, the San Francisco early-music ensemble Voices of Music has you covered. You may remember us previously featuring their performances of Vivaldi and Pachelbel; in the video above, you can hear and see them play Bach.

More specifically, you can hear them play the second movement, Aria, from Bach's orchestral suite in D Major, BWV 1068. The instruments they play it on include an Italian baroque violin from 1660 and an Austrian baroque viola from 1680, as well as more recently crafted examples rigorously modeled after instruments from that same era. "As instruments became modernized in the 19th century, builders and players tended to focus on the volume of sound and the stability of tuning," says VoM's explanation of their use of period instruments. "Modern steel strings replaced the older materials, and instruments were often machine made. Historical instruments, built individually by hand and with overall lighter construction, have extremely complex overtones — which we find delightful."

Any lover of Bach's music has heard this piece many times, not least due to its popularization in the late 19th century, in an arrangement by German violinist August Wilhelmj, as "Air on the G String." The original work dates to "some time between the years 1717 and 1723," writes music blogger Özgür Nevres, when Bach composed it for his patron Prince Leopold of Anhalt. It also holds the honor of being the first work by Bach ever recorded, "by the Russian cellist Aleksandr Verzhbilovich and an unknown pianist, in 1902 (as the Air from the Overture No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068)." But no matter how many different recordings from different eras of Bach's orchestral suite in D Major in which you've steeped yourself, if you've only heard it played on modern instruments, a performance like Voices of Music's shows that it still has surprises to offer.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Women Scientists Launch a Database Featuring the Work of 9,000 Women Working in the Sciences

“Why are there so few women in science?” has almost become a tiresome refrain over the years, given how little the answers engage with the thousands of female scientists working all over the world. “Too often,” writes the project 500 Women Scientists, “high-profile articles, conference panels, and boards are filled with a disproportionate number of male voices. News stories are reported by more men by a huge margin, and this imbalance is reflected in how frequently women are quoted in news stories unless journalists make a conscious effort to reach out.

“Most keynote speakers at conferences are men. Panels are so frequently all-male that a new word evolved to describe the phenomenon: manels. These imbalances add up and reinforce the inaccurate perception that science is stale, pale and male.” The next time the question arises—“why are there so few women in science?”—or any other question needing scientific expertise, one need only gesture silently to 500 Women Scientists, a grassroots organization consisting of far more scientists than its title suggests.




Described as “a resource for journalists, educators, policy makers, scientists and anyone needing scientific expertise,” the project began in 2016 as an open letter penned by its founders, then graduate students at Colorado University, Boulder, who decided to re-affirm their values against reactionary attacks by amassing 500 signatures on an open letter. They’ve since built a searchable database of over 9,000 women researchers from around the world, and a resource that helps build local scientific communities.

Since launching last year, their Request a Scientist database has shown “the excuse that you can’t find a qualified woman just doesn't hold,” says co-founder and microbial ecologist Dr. Kelly Ramirez-Donders. It has also provided much more detailed data on women in science, which was published in a paper at PLOS Biology in April. “The group has ambitious plans to keep expanding its reach,” writes STAT. “They’re raising money to start a fellowship for women of color… and they have already launched an affiliate group, 500 Women in Medicine.”

“We’re scientists. We’re lovers of evidence and data points,” says co-founder Maryam Zaringhalam, a molecular biologist. “And so now anytime somebody tells us they couldn’t find someone or there just aren’t enough women in STEM fields, we can point them to [the database] and say, ‘Well, actually, this is the tip of the iceberg, and there’s over 8,000.’… ensuring that women’s voices are represented in the media narratives is really essential for showing that, ‘No, we are here, it’s just that people haven’t necessarily been aware of us or done the work to find us.’”

Correcting misperceptions not only helps reduce biases within scientific communities; it also encourages budding scientists who might otherwise be discouraged from the pursuit. “It’s not that girls are not interested in science,” co-founder Jane Zelikova tells Good Morning America. “Something happens where they don’t see women or girls represented as scientists and they don’t think it’s for them.” 500 Women in Science proves that notion wrong—science is for them, and for everyone who wants to devote their lives to scientific research. Just look at the data.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Very First Picture of the Far Side of the Moon, Taken 60 Years Ago

Sixty years ago, mankind got its very first glimpse of the far side of the Moon, so called because it faces away from the Earth. (And as astronomers like Neil DeGrasse Tyson have long taken pains to point out to Pink Floyd fans, it isn't "dark.") Taken by the Soviet Union, that first photo may not look like much today, especially compared to the high-resolution color images sent back from the surface itself by China's Chang’e-4 probe earlier this year. But with the technology of the late 1950s, even the technology commanded by the Soviets' then-world-beating space program, the fact that it was taken at all seems not far short of miraculous. How did they do it?

"This photograph was taken by the Soviet spacecraft Luna 3, which was launched a month after the Luna 2 spacecraft became the first man-made object to impact on the surface of the Moon," explains astronomer Kevin Hainline in a recent Twitter thread. "Luna 2 followed Luna 1, the first spacecraft to escape a geosynchronous Earth orbit." Luna 3 was designed to take photographs of the Moon, hardly an uncomplicated prospect: "To take pictures you have to be stable on three-axes. You have to take the photographs remotely. AND you have to somehow transfer those pictures back to Earth." The first three-axis stabilized spacecraft ever sent on a mission, Luna 3 "had to use a little photocell to orient towards the Moon so that now, while stabilized, it could take the pictures. Which it did. On PHOTOGRAPHIC FILM."




Even those of us who took pictures on film for decades have started to take for granted the convenience of digital photography. But think back to all the hassle of traditional photography, then imagine making a robot carry them out in space. Once taken Luna 3's photos "were then moved to a little CHEMICAL PLANT to DEVELOP AND DRY THEM." (In other words, "Luna 3 had a little 1 Hour Photo inside.") Then they continued into "a device that shone a cathode ray tube, like in an older TV, through them, towards a device that recorded the brightness and converted this to an electrical signal." You can read about what happened then in more detail at Damn Interesting, where Alan Bellows describes how the spacecraft sent "the lightness and darkness information line-by-line via frequency-modulated analog signal — in essence, a fax sent over radio."

Soviet Scientists could thus "retrieve one photographic frame every 30 minutes or so. Due to the distance and weak signal, the first images received contained nothing but static. In subsequent attempts in the following few days, an indistinct, blotchy white disc began to resolve on the thermal paper printouts at Soviet listening stations." As Luna 3's photos became clearer, they revealed, as Hainline puts it, that "the backside of the moon was SO WEIRD AND DIFFERENT" — covered in the craters, for example, which have become its visual signature. For a modern-day equivalent to this achievement, we might look not just to Chang’e-4 but to the image of a black hole captured by the Event Horizon Telescope this past April — the one that led to an abundance of articles like "In Defense of the Blurry Black Hole Photo" and "We Need to Admit That the Black Hole Photo Isn’t Very Good." Astrophotography has come a long way, but at least back in 1959 it didn't produce quite so many takes.

via Kottke

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Time When Charlie Chaplin Entered a Chaplin Look-Alike Contest & Came in 20th Place

chaplin contest

Charlie Chaplin started appearing in his first films in 1914---40 films, to be precise---and, by 1915, the United States had a major case of "Chaplinitis." Chaplin mustaches were suddenly popping up everywhere--as were Chaplin imitators and Chaplin look-alike contests. A young Bob Hope apparently won one such contest in Cleveland. Chaplin Fever continued burning hot through 1921, the year when the Chaplin look-alike contest, shown above, was held outside the Liberty Theatre in Bellingham, Washington.

According to legend, somewhere between 1915 and 1921, Chaplin decided to enter a Chaplin look-alike contest, and lost, badly.




A short article called "How Charlie Chaplin Failed," appearing in The Straits Times of Singapore in August of 1920, read like this:

Lord Desborough, presiding at a dinner of the Anglo-Saxon club told a story which will have an enduring life. It comes from Miss Mary Pickford who told it to Lady Desborough, “Charlie Chaplin was one day at a fair in the United States, where a principal attraction was a competition as to who could best imitate the Charlie Chaplin walk. The real Charlie Chaplin thought there might be a chance for him so he entered for the performance, minus his celebrated moustache and his boots. He was a frightful failure and came in twentieth.

A variation on the same story appeared in a New Zealand newspaper, the Poverty Bay Herald, again in 1920. As did another story in the Australian newspaper, the Albany Advertiser, in March, 1921.

A competition in Charlie Chaplin impersonations was held in California recently. There was something like 40 competitors, and Charlie Chaplin, as a joke, entered the contest under an assumed name. He impersonated his well known film self. But he did not win; he was 27th in the competition.

Did Chaplin come in 20th place? 27th place? Did he enter a contest at all? It's fun to imagine that he did. But, a century later, many consider the story the stuff of urban legend. When one researcher asked the Association Chaplin to weigh in, they apparently had this to say: "This anecdote told by Lord Desborough, whoever he may have been, was quite widely reported in the British press at the time. There are no other references to such a competition in any other press clipping albums that I have seen so I can only assume that this is the source of that rumour, urban myth, whatever it is. However, it may be true."

I'd like to believe it is.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in early 2016.

via France Culture/Stack Exchange

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Oscar-Nominated Composer Danny Elfman Teaches an Online Course on Writing Music for Film: A Look Inside His Creative Process


FYI: If you sign up for a MasterClass course by clicking on the affiliate links in this post, Open Culture will receive a small fee that helps support our operation.

To have watched some of the greatest film and television in the last thirty-five years is to have been immersed in the music of Mark Mothersbaugh and Danny Elfman—two artists who have scored Hollywood blockbusters and indie hits alike since the mid-eighties when they started on TV’s Pee-wee’s Playhouse and Tim Burton’s 1985 comedy Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, respectively. They also happen to have played in two of the 1980’s weirdest, most experimental New Wave bands, Devo and Oingo Boingo.

Mothersbough went on to score everything from Rugrats to Thor: Ragnarok, but he’s maybe best known for his work with Wes Anderson. Likewise, Elfman—who has worked with everyone from Gus Van Sant to Brian De Palma to Peter Jackson to Ang Lee—formed a creative bond with Burton, to such a degree that it's near impossible to imagine a Tim Burton film without a Danny Elfman score.

When Burton first approached him for Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, the Oingo Boingo frontman was just about to release “Weird Science,” for the infamous John Hughes film of the same name. Already a band with a massive cult following, they became pop stars, and Elfman became one of the most distinctive film composers of the last several decades.

He scored Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Sleepy Hollow, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, and, most recently, Burton’s Dumbo. Now he’s sharing his secrets for aspiring film composers everywhere with his very own Masterclass. “I’m going to tell you from my perspective,” he says in the trailer above, “how I do these things": things including instrumentation, orchestration, melody, and tone—"the most important thing you’re going to capture in a film score."

In the screenshots here, see excerpts of the course topics, which include units on the films Milk, The Unknown Known, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, an example of “writing specifically for a character”—a character, Jack Skellington, whose singing voice Elfman also provided.

For those who feel they’ll never measure up to a career like Danny Elfman’s, he introduces all important units on insecurity and failure. Perhaps the most important lesson of all, he says above, with infectious enthusiasm, is learning that “it’s okay to fail, to feel insecure. Doubting yourself, finding confidence and moving forward, and then doubting what you’ve just done…. I think this is the life of a composer. I think it’s the life of an artist.”

Can such things be taught, or can they only be lived? Each teacher and student of the arts must at some point ask themselves this question. Perhaps they only learn the answer when they try, and fail, and try again anyway. Register for Elfman’s class for a single fee of $90, or pay $199 for an all-access pass to 60+ masterclass courses taught by other moviemaking greats like Hans Zimmer, Samuel L. Jackson, David Lynch, and more.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Art Class Instead Of Jail: New Program Lets Young Offenders Take Free Art Classes Rather Than Spend Time in the Criminal System

Art saves lives, and art can also save an individual from the stigma of an arrest record, provided that the arrest is for one of 15 non-violent misdemeanors.

Project Reset, a museum-based early diversion program in three of New York City’s five boroughs, aims to reframe the way youthful (and not so youthful) offenders see themselves, by considering an artwork via a collective interpretive process, before using it as the inspiration for a collage or oil pastel-based project of their own.




The stakes are higher and far more personal than they are on the average public school field trip. Upon completion of a class ranging from 2.5 to 4 hours, the participant’s record is wiped clean and their assigned court date is rendered moot.

Rather than being herded through a number of galleries, participants zero in on a single work.

At the Brooklyn Museum, participants in the under-25 age range get a crash course in Shifting the GazeTitus Kaphar’s intentional palimpsest, in which all the figures in a replica of Frans Hals’ Family Group in a Landscape are whited out so viewers may focus in on the only character of color, a young boy who appears to be a family servant.

Older participants undertake a similarly deep dive on The Judgement by Bob Thompson, an African American artist who was inspired by the constant interplay between good and evil.

While this may strike some as a cushy punishment, it’s a legitimate attempt to acquaint participants with the very real impact their actions could have on future plans—including college admissions and job applications.

Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., one of Project Reset’s architects, shared a non-partisan fiscal take with City Lab’s Rebecca Bellan that may persuade naysayers who feel the program rewards budding criminals by giving them an easy out:

If you jump subway turnstiles in Manhattan, you never go to jail. You can do it 100 times and no court is ever going to send you to jail. So we spend about $2,200 to process a theft of services arrest for a $2.75 fare. Our justice system falls most heavily on communities of color, and we really need to rethink how we approach these cases, both to get better outcomes, but also to reduce the impact which is very often viewed as targeted and unfair on particular communities.

Above is a list of the non-violent misdemeanors that can channel first timers toward the aptly named Project Reset.

via Hyperallergic

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC for her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.





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