Emdashes—Modern Times Between the Lines

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Before it moved to The New Yorker:
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Best of Emdashes: Hit Parade
A Web Comic: The Wavy Rule


Sempé Fi: Lumino-city

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Pollux writes:

Jorge Colombo’s new cover, “Night Lights,” for the November 16, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, is as much about negative space as it is about positive space. The blackness and void of nighttime occupies most of the cover; the rest is filled with dots, blots, and rectangles of white and colored light.

Colombo has become a magician with his iPod-created covers. He creates visions of New York City, giving us new versions of it through the filter of his Brushes application. He gives us atmosphere rather than a literal depiction. We already know what the city looks like. Colombo tells us what the city is.

His New York is not just a city of light. It is a city entirely composed of light. Amidst the negative space of the night, lights unconnected to one another create a pattern, like a constellation in the night sky. Colombo’s cover is a collection of street lights, stop lights, office lights, building lights, and car lights.

His illuminations vary in size, strength, and color. His lights do not have boundaries; they radiate and emit indistinct glows that seem to pulse like the radii of a giant red star or the corona of the sun. His lights are blurred by nighttime, by weather, by movement, and by distance.

Colombo’s New York City is beautiful, unburdened by the mass and gravity of solid structures. During the night, the city is pure light. And then day comes, and we must face, and see, the solidness of reality.


Thank you for the lovely article about Jorge Colombo’s “Night Lights”. But I went to the bottom of the essay to learn more about EMDASH, and I’m unable to read ANY of the captions that are printed in white on a bright yellow background. Surely I am not the only reader with this problem, not will I be the last. Will you please, please correct this captions problem?

Mona Allison YoesNovember 24, 2009

Hi Mona, I’m sorry this issue is occurring for you. It should be light green at the bottom of the Emdashes website. Have you tried adjusting your monitor? I’m also looking into this issue on our end.

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2008 Webby Awards Official Honoree