domingo, 9 de octubre de 2011
The Whole Earth Catalog
The Whole Earth Catalog was an American counterculture catalog published by Stewart Brand between 1968 and 1972, and occasionally thereafter, until 1998. Although the WECs listed all sorts of products for sale (clothing, books, tools, machines, seeds – things useful for a creative or self-sustainable lifestyle) the Whole Earth Catalogs themselves did not sell any of the products. Instead the vendors and their prices were listed right alongside with the items. This led to a need for the Catalogs to be frequently updated.
The title Whole Earth Catalog came from a previous project of Stewart Brand. In 1966, he initiated a public campaign to have NASA release the then-rumored satellite photo of the sphere of Earth as seen from space, the first image of the "Whole Earth." He thought the image might be a powerful symbol, evoking a sense of shared destiny and adaptive strategies from people. The Stanford-educated Brand, a biologist with strong artistic and social interests, believed that there was a groundswell of commitment to thoroughly renovating American industrial society along ecologically and socially just lines, whatever they might prove to be.
Andrew Kirk in Counterculture Green notes that the Whole Earth Catalog was preceded by the "Whole Earth Truck Store". The WETS was a 1963 Dodge truck — in 1968 Brand and his wife Lois embarked "on a commune road trip" with the truck hoping to tour the country doing educational fairs. The truck was not only a store but also an alternative lending library and a mobile microeducation service. The "Truck Store" finally settled into its permanent location in Menlo Park, California. Instead of bringing the store to the people, Brand decided to create a catalog so the people could contact the vendors directly.
Using the most basic of typesetting and page-layout tools, Brand and his colleagues created the first issue of The Whole Earth Catalog in 1968. In subsequent issues, its production values gradually improved. Its outsize pages measured 11x14 inches (28x36 cm). Later editions were more than an inch thick. The early editions were published by the Portola Institute, headed by Richard Raymond. In 1972, the catalog won the National Book Award, the first time a catalog had ever won such an award. Brand's intent with the catalog was to provide education and "access to tools" so a reader could "find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested."
J. Baldwin was a young designer and instructor of design at colleges around the San Francisco Bay (San Francisco State University [then San Francisco State College], the San Francisco Art Institute, and the California College of the Arts [then California College of Arts and Crafts]). As he recalled in the film Ecological Design (1994), "Stewart Brand came to me because he heard that I read catalogs. He said, 'I want to make this thing called a "whole Earth" catalog so that anyone on Earth can pick up a telephone and find out the complete information on anything. ...That’s my goal.'" Baldwin served as the chief editor of subjects in the areas of technology and design, both in the catalog itself and in other publications which arose from it.
True to his 1966 vision, Brand's publishing efforts were suffused with an awareness of the importance of ecology, both as a field of study and as an influence upon the future of humankind and emerging human awareness.