Technology and Life. Avant-garde / constructivist cover.
The cover of this magazine is a clean and efficient model of late avant-garde layout and design. The composition is framed by the ‘technical’ element – the railway signal tower and arm. Black and red, the predominant constructivist colours, are employed to noticeable effect. The central photograph is shown in montage / collage style. It was obviously cut (rather crudely) and glued onto the artist’s design. It is not pure ‘constructivism’ since it contains figurative elements and they predominate. It is a mixture of styles and a worthwhile and eye-catching piece. The artist is not credited.
Death of Lenin
(Frontispiece, above right) The death of Lenin on 21st. January 1924 clearly took the publishers of this magazine by surprise – they were probably either at press or preparing for it when the news came through. They managed a hastily-arranged black-framed portrait to be shown on the frontispiece of this issue. There wasn’t time to include any written articles or photographic tributes other than this.
Technology and Life
Technology and Life was a concerned with all aspects of modern technical progress. It comments on a wide range of subjects, such as: new road-mending techniques, the prevention of fires on ships, the growth in use of electric cars (according to this issue there were 180000 electric cars in the USA and 30000 in the UK!), new snow ploughs for trains, air transport in North Africa, and the mechanisation of the transportation of newspapers inside the printing press. It is an impressive publication, given the very scarce resources at the disposal of the publishers.
The flagship project of the era was the electrification of the USSR. The construction of hydro-electric power stations was celebrated and much-publicised. In this issue the centre pages are devoted to the Volkhovstroi project, which is about 120 kms. to the East of St. Petersburg. This power plant is still running. It is owned and operated by Gazprom. For an artist’s view of Volkhovstroi, have a look here.
New Production technology
An entire page is devoted to the system of transporting newspapers around the packing department of the New York Tribune.
The article goes to great lengths to explain and show how the American plant engineers solved the problem of having papers packed and then transported by conveyor belt directly into the trucks waiting to take them to be sold.
It displays the enthusiasm and willingness of Soviet technologists to look beyond their own country for answers and innovation. Within 15 years, even mentioning any knowledge of advanced foreign technology in a casual conversation would become a dangerous pastime.