Art Exhibition: Ryland Wharton: Make an Alloy, Make an Inventory


Thursday, June 30, 2016 (All day) to Saturday, September 24, 2016 (All day)


Carpenter Center, 24 Quincy Street

Presented by: Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
Admission: Free
Runs: June 30-September 24

CRC/bookshop, Level 3

Make an Alloy, Make an Inventory imagines the CRC/ bookshop as a continuously rewritten page. Five discreet display areas in the bookshop house an evolving selection of images, objects, and books that find their origin in the inaugural 1968 issue of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog. The Whole Earth Catalog was an American journal and product sales catalog published primarily between 1968 and 1972 with the intent to create an extensive and systemic network of references and pointers to intellectual and scientific “tools” that would, in turn, provide readers access to becoming totally self-reliant individual. The tools Brand referenced were mostly books—both pragmatic and philosophical in nature—covering a range of topics from shelter and land use, communications, and community, to learning, industry, and craft. Voices such as the mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener and the theorist and designer Buckminster Fuller whose scientific inquiries and social ideals held the promise of a better future figure prominently in the catalogs. Today, the Whole Earth Catalog remains a cross-section of the essential knowledge and cultural production accessible around 1968, the moment when a counterculture ethos began to gain traction.

The items—or “figures”—in Wharton’s Make an Alloy, Make an Inventory are both found and made. Presented together within the physical space of the CRC/bookshop, the image-language combinations compare to the figure-text pairings typically found on a book page. Wharton’s strategic system of adjacencies (or “script” as he calls it) encourages visitors to summon unique and individual narratives. Comparable to turning a page, each day throughout the exhibition a single figure will be replaced with a new one while one book—or figure—will be available for purchase. Thus, the narrative shifts with every visit to the bookshop. Over the course of the exhibition, over thirty permutations of items will occupy the space.