Thursday, August 30, 2012

Les Coleman Meets Jessica Helfand

© Les Coleman, Imperfect Sense vovelle

Above A few years ago (2005 to be precise), British artist and aphorist Les Coleman sent me this adaptation of an "information wheel" or "wheel chart" (produced by Colin Sackett for In House Publishing), in which each turn of the wheel produces a Coleman aphorism. I was reminded of one of my favorite books, published a few years earlier, by Winterhouse graphic designer Jessica Helfand, titled Reinventing the Wheel (NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003) (see cover below). It is an immensely rich collection of the widest variety of vintage information wheels (more formally known as volvelles), pertaining to all sorts of subjects, among them Enemy Airplane and Yank Spotters, Color Blindness Chart, and Handy Nail Calculator. There must be at least several hundred, reproduced in color and in fine detail. As it turns out, Les Coleman's "dial an aphorism" is a take-off on a British Translation Wheel that came out c1960 (see p. 136). When I saw the Helfand book, I immediately challenged my graphic design students to design and build their own vovelles, using unexpected subject matter. One student built a pizza wheel, in which the wheel was part of a circular pizza cutter.

Cover, Jessica Helfand, Reinventing the Wheel (2003)


That said, here is more from Les Coleman—

Model wears clothes at nudist camp life drawing class.

A wig so convincing it had its own dandruff.

The life of a mouse is a rat race.

 Terror struck at the very heart of his epiglottis.

The vacation was certainly no holiday.

The temerity to be audacious.

Please refrain from prohibiting.

The cowboy put on his dark glasses and rode off into the sunset.

The sundial had stopped.

Little Miss Muffet sat on a whoopee cushion.

Propaganda helps us make up our minds.

To make guinea pigs of guinea pigs.

If I could be a fly on the wall I would not be sitting in this chair.