Author: Courtney Utt
Courtney Utt is an award-winning visual designer and brand strategist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The longtime chief book designer for the legendary manga/anime imprint VIZ Media, Utt has also birthed book covers for such diverse clients as Brooklyn's Akashic Books and Oakland's PM Press, as well as CD, DVD and LP packages for the late, great experimental music imprint, Asphodel. Also a photographer, Utt's work has been recognized by Viennese analog camera manufacturer Lomo.

Gun shows are easy to satirize. Arms manufacturers frequently use typically beautiful women to show off weaponry. Display booth and catalogue language is inevitably Orwellian. Every advertisement is rife with complex signifiers. Given the opportunity, a psychoanalyst would have a heart attack decoding industry messaging. (More…)

Leave it to late Khmer Rouge head Pol Pot to turn a high school into a prison. As though that weren’t an apt metaphor for the late dictator’s philosophy of education. After all, his regime is credited with popularizing the term re-education camp, following the death of a million Cambodians in such centers. A more formal detention facility, this picture was taken at Tuol Sleng in Phnom Penh. Now a museum, it has turned back into an educational space – teaching Cambodians about genocide.


When the West imagines a more perfect Turkey, it inevitably invokes the figure of Ataturk, irrespective of how undemocratic he was. What matters was his desire to be European, even though Ataturk would still be denied membership to the EU. When the West imagines a more perfect Arab world, it inevitably invokes the figure of Ataturk, irrespective of the fact that he was European, not an Arab. What matters was his embrace of secularism, as a Muslim. Etcetera. Etcetera.

These captured American aircraft have a particularly timeless quality to them. Some of them remain in daily use, such as the UH-1 Huey helicopter. The others, the F-5 Tiger and A-37 Dragonfly, though less familiar, still register, as both remain in service in several air forces. On display at Saigon’s War Remnants Museum, they’re relics of the last time the United States was officially defeated in combat. At least that’s the idea in showing them off, as reminders of the one-time limits of US power.

Of course it’s a fish auction. A tuna auction. Why does it feel as though everything in Japan comes off of a conveyor belt? Should I include the ocean? Don’t get me wrong. It’s part of the appeal. Nonetheless, it often feels as though at its very core, Japan will always be a factory, including its natural scenery. If it isn’t a Sony digital camera, or a Toyota Prius, it’s carefully arranged displays of tea leaves. Or, in this case, sushi to be. Row after roe, so to speak. Tsukiji Market, Tokyo, 2006.

Everything is always behind a fence. Once you get access to the other side, exhilaration inevitably gives way to disappointment. What’s new seems old, not ancient. Contested is frequently a synonym for abandoned. If so many people want to live here, why does it always feel so empty? The Middle East isn’t supposed to be so cold. I don’t mean temperature, either. Northern Israel, October 2000.