Creative Time—The Book

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  • The book is in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago

For its 33rd anniversary, the public art organization Creative Time celebrated by releasing its first retrospective book and commissioning Karlssonwilker to design it. Our mission was to create a book that was more than a typical art tome, we wanted it to embody the ephemeral and experimental spirit of Creative Time's urban installations by turning the book into a site-specific public-art project.

To achieve this, we developed the Urban Visual Recording Machine (UVRM), a commercial, glassed pop-up retail truck that was equipped with various sensors that continually recorded its environment as it rolled around the streets of Manhattan. Elements such as weather conditions, ambient sounds, surrounding colors, and stories and comments from passers-by were captured as data and rendered as graphs that were printed in real-time inside the van. Over the course of a week, the UVRM produced thousands of these kinds of abstract New York snapshots, each imprinted with its exact location, time, and date. The prints were applied to the hard book covers, resulting in every publication being wrapped in a one-of-a-kind artifact. 

Audio CommentaryJan and Hjalti discuss the project with Anne Pasternak (former Director, Creative Time).
"Karlssonwilker turned our 33rd anniversary book into a public art project. Nothing could have embodied the institution better. They are extremely creative thinkers whose only focus is to deliver what’s best for the project, finding the most unique perspective that's authentic to the partner institution. You know that it’s good piece of work when museums acquire it, not for their libraries, but as artworks for their collections."
Anne Pasternak, Director, Brooklyn Museum (former Director, Creative Time)

The data was processed and rendered in real-time and printed out on the spot inside the van every 30 seconds over the course of a week.

The abstract recordings can be deciphered with a key on the inside back cover.

We also designed the book itself, and filled it with text and photographs, celebrating and assessing the current state of public art. 

Hjalti and Jan spent many hours in Creative Time’s extraordinary archive to find images and collateral that would tell the most compelling stories.

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