Access to Tools: Publications from the Whole Earth Catalog

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Access to Tools: Publications from the Whole Earth Catalog, 1968-1974

In 1968, Stewart Brand founded the Whole Earth Catalog. Brand’s goals were to make a variety of tools accessible to newly dispersed counterculture communities, back-to-the-land households, and innovators in the fields of technology, design, and architecture, and to create a community meeting-place in print. The catalog quickly developed into a wide-ranging reference for new living spaces, sustainable design, and experimental media and community practices. After only a few years of publication it exploded in popularity, becoming a formidable cultural phenomenon.

Books, selected and described by the editorial staff and organized in sections titled Understanding Whole Systems, Shelter and Land Use, Communication, and Community, were the primary resources the Whole Earth Catalog offered. This exhibition of printed matter surveys these publications and summarizes the history of the catalog project. The selection does not represent all the subjects the catalog featured, but it reflects the publication’s focus on experimental ideas in design and technology and the dialogue between theorists and practitioners these ideas raised.

Press:

Review by Nicholas Schroeder in the Portland Phoenix

This exhibition is organized by David Senior, Bibliographer, MoMA Library and Daniel Fuller for the ICA @ MECA.