Whole Earth Catalog, 1971 production in Saline Valley, CA

Summary

Kevin Kelly uploaded on 11/4/13

This is about 20 minutes of super 8 film that Stewart Brand shot in the winter of 1971. It documents the production of the January 1971 “Difficult But Possible Supplement” to The Whole Earth Catalog. Supplements were 60-page long magazine-like periodicals that appeared seasonally between the many-year cycle of the book-like Catalogs.

This films shows (briefly near the end) the simple tools used to make the catalogs: paper, wax, an IBM Selectric typewriter, and a Polaroid reproduction camera.

There were 6 staff from Whole Earth, and 2 from Ant Farm, an art collective. Ant Farm built the structures. The camp was centered around a beautiful wild hot spring. 70 miles to the nearest phone. They erected a dome in the desert and then battled the winds while trying to erect an inflatable structure. It was Burning Man 40 years ago.

The wind came up and blew away the production inflatable (bounding across the desert), and they had to move production of the Catalog into the Airstream that Stewart and his wife Lois lived in. Ant Farm lived in their little dome (seen trucking from one site to another).

I asked Stewart why they went to the ...

Kevin Kelly uploaded on 11/4/13

This is about 20 minutes of super 8 film that Stewart Brand shot in the winter of 1971. It documents the production of the January 1971 “Difficult But Possible Supplement” to The Whole Earth Catalog. Supplements were 60-page long magazine-like periodicals that appeared seasonally between the many-year cycle of the book-like Catalogs.

This films shows (briefly near the end) the simple tools used to make the catalogs: paper, wax, an IBM Selectric typewriter, and a Polaroid reproduction camera.

There were 6 staff from Whole Earth, and 2 from Ant Farm, an art collective. Ant Farm built the structures. The camp was centered around a beautiful wild hot spring. 70 miles to the nearest phone. They erected a dome in the desert and then battled the winds while trying to erect an inflatable structure. It was Burning Man 40 years ago.

The wind came up and blew away the production inflatable (bounding across the desert), and they had to move production of the Catalog into the Airstream that Stewart and his wife Lois lived in. Ant Farm lived in their little dome (seen trucking from one site to another).

I asked Stewart why they went to the desert to produce a magazine?

“Why did we do it? My excuse was to prove that production could be anywhere—an early Maker impulse I suppose. The real reason was the pure joy of doing something difficult but possible in the desert. The whole story of the making of the Supplement was printed in the Supplement.”

— KK

Scott Joy Footnote:

If Stewart Brand hadn’t gone to Japan in the summer of 1970 when I went out to Palo Alto to meet him and see if I can assist with the Whole Earth Catalog, I could have been in this video. Instead i met Fran Lebrun in an office next door to the WEC. I ended staying in his home over the summer and learned more about the Computer Club that Fran had organized using a PDP 10 (?).  Was the first of its kind in the Valley and eventually led to the Homebrew Computer Club.

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