The books are part of the “Penguin On Design” series, and include Bruno Munari’s 1965 book, Design As Art (a futurist artist’s exploration of modern high tech absurdities); Marshall McLuhan’s 1967 classic, The Medium is the Massage (an analysis of how mass media shape consciousness); John Berger’s Ways Of Seeing from 1972 (about the hidden political meanings in Western art) ; and Susan Sontag’s 1977 essay, On Photography (which explores how “realistic” photography manipulates rather than reflects reality).
“All these books are also packed with art, and many contain long sections of photo and design illustrations that were intended to be essays in themselves. So each of these books is not only about looking at the world, but is also full of images for you to look at,” writes Annalee Newitz at io9. “These books are a terrific way to learn more about what’s going on beneath the surface of things – and to celebrate the ambivalent power of design and media.”
To be honest, I’ve managed to escape my entire life without having read any of these books. I know, I know, right? It’s almost crazy in a way. But now that Penguin is reissuing these books, complete with the typo title of Marshall McLuhan’s book restored, now is as good as time as any to delve into these titles.
Penguin Press art director Jim Stoddart explains the thinking behind the re-releases: “Part of Penguin’s creative publishing direction includes refreshing some classic creative texts that still sell many thousands of copies each year, despite their tired covers and designs that haven’t been touched for decades.
“I approached Yes Design to work on unifying these four books into a timeless and dignified series, while also taking much care to complement the integrity of the original texts.”