Low resolution versions of famous book covers

Low Res Books” is a series created by RISD MFA graduate Benjamin Shaykin (and former art director of Mother Jones, one of my favorite news magazines ever) where he distills the familiar covers of popular editions of novels into their most basic pixelated form, whereby “they become abstract, mere suggestions of books” and “…while seemingly abstract, they act as a kind of semaphore, signaling a shared cultural connection between anyone who can decipher them.”

The artist and this book design project also unintentionally wades in on a recent controversy regarding ownership of art and fair-use issues when Andy Baio, one of the elites of the bloggerati, was sued by New York City-based photographer Jay Maisel. For the cover art of his digital project, which was a “chiptune tribute to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue,” Baio used a pixel version of Maisel’s photograph. Maisel sued and Baio recently settled this dispute by paying the photograher $32,500. While I understand the importance of protecting one’s work, Baio makes a compelling case on his website and it saddens me that this was the outcome. In a semi-related and unrelated context, if I may, whenever I give visitors a tour of Soho, I always like to point out Maisel’s house. A few years ago I read this article in New York Magazine about how Maisel lives in one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in New York City with just his wife and daughter: It’s a six story, 72-room, 35,000 square foot complex on the corner of Bowery and Spring he purchased 45 years ago for $102,000. Its value today ranges from approximately $40 million to $70 million.