What would a room for obsolescence look like?

Obsolescence/Birth is an installation at the Knockdown Center (KDC) in Queens, part of an exhibition focused on the "structure of the page" hosted by KDC, Visitation and the Reanimation Library. We were joined by twenty-five artists, cooks, activists, performers, and poets for the one-day event.

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The prompt for the installation was a page scanned from a braille manual for the blind, a curious guide that contains no raised indentations and discusses primarily the code behind the language. As we began thinking about this, we were struck both by the beauty and versatility of the code, but also of obsolescence. Less than one percent of blind persons currently read braille, and with the shift to text-to-speech technologies and libraries digitizing content continuously, braille and the printed page is becoming less and less used every day. In response, we developed a room and projection that embraced the utility and beauty of what is being lost and posited future evolutions through the aid of the unit or module.

We decided to use a soon-to-be-obsolete, inexpensive module: a roll of receipt paper. By stretching the paper from the bottom of a truss, we connected various parts of KDC together, creating walls of varying opacity and curvature. We also developed an art piece for the space, further based on the module and the edge between obsolescence and birth/rebirth: a film of code-based images taken from Eadweard Muybridge's studies of bodies in motion. By shifting this early predecessor of film to language-based images, we explored the potential of units, blending a series of bodies (human and nonhuman) together, linked through their inherent code (DNA).

For more on the design process, check out our blog post here.

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