Repair Manuals and Cosmic Sounds
Self-publishing to heal the entire universe
25 November 2021 to May 2022
Study Centre (CED), Level 0
Repair Manuals and Cosmic Sounds is an expanded exhibition which, in certain ways, looks at the collective and experimental self-publishing of the past, addressing the urgent issues of the present centered around the self-management of resources and the climate emergency.
The research is based on the impact that the work of the hard-to-classify architect, inventor and utopian, Buckminster Fuller, has had on the experience and search for alternative ways of inhabiting space and of relating to the environment from a “do it yourself” or “less is more” perspective. The influences that these and other utopian theories have had on thought and creation can be seen in publications such as Whole Earth Catalog or New Woman’s Survival Catalog, two directories of alternative resources published in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They are countercultural references and precursors of many other publications which support the establishment of alternative collaboration networks based on self-management and feminist libertarian ecology.
Pacifist community projects like Drop City, The Farm or The Diggers; anarchists like Provo or Christiania; and those based on radical design and architecture, such as Archigram or Ken Isaacs, all used self-publishing to independently disseminate ideas that question and challenge the interests of established power and propose the awakening of a new spiritual life outside the system.
However, these projects did not limit themselves to the circulation of ideas through printed publications; in their willingness to experiment and increase awareness, and often under the influence of lysergic cocktails and the expansion of the use of synthesizers, they used music as a catalyst in sound meditations and turned dance floors into pacifist barricades and parties into spaces of resistance. Records such as Mort Garson’s acclaimed Plantasia used synthesizers to create music for plants and humans, promoting a new relationship with nature which deactivates the anthropocentric vision, and talks about the influence of the paradigm shift caused by the first photographs taken of planet Earth from outer space in 1968, and the emergence of ambient music.
All these historical references have had a more or less conscious impact on contemporary culture and environmental movements that, through science, activism, creation and thought, are confronting the ecological crisis. They promote a necessary alliance between species; an ecofeminism capable of healing the wounds inflicted on the planet and its inhabitants by patriarchal capitalism. These movements continue to draw on the dynamic and viral character of the publications in their physicality of light and resistant structures – such as Fuller’s Dymaxion and the geodesic domes – to the resilience of the book and the record as sensual objects in a world of obsolescence and virtuality.