CATALOGUES

catalogues

Attempt at conceptual art:

List of what landed in my mailbox last night:

  • AARP brochure
  • AAA brochure
  • Soft Surroundings clothing catalog
  • Kohl’s
  • STAPLES coupon
  • Sam’s Club® Catalog
  • Harvard University Press Literature & Culture 2017

 

28 items in the Sam’s Club® Catalog:

  1. SAMSUNG UHD TV (3HDMI)
  2. FIJI WATER
  3. FROZEN STUFFED JALAPEŇO PEPPERS, 40-50 count.
  4. DIAMOND EARRING
  5. MAKEUP REMOVER CLEANSING TOWELETTES
  6. FIXED/TILT WALL MOUNT KIT
  7. SAMSUNG 2D WI-FI BLU-RAY™
  8. $100 DESKTOP PC BUNDLE
  9. HP® FULL HD NOTEBOOK
  10. ROUTER WITH BONUS ADAPTER
  11. ALL IN ONE WIRELESS PRINTER
  12. 1080P HD SECURITY SYSTEM WITH 1TB HARD DRIVE
  13. GARMIN™ VIVOSMART® HR+
  14. ENERGIZER® LITHIUM AA AND/OR AAA BATTERIES
  15. DURACELL® COPPERTOP AND/OR QUANTUM BATTERIES
  16. XEROX MULTIPURPOSE PLUS PAPER WITH COLORLOK™
  17. CLEARLAX®, GLUCOSAMINE CHONDROTIN + MSM, B-12 AND/OR LUTEIN ZEAXANTHINE
  18. VITAMIN D3 2,000IU AND/OR 5,000IU
  19. GARMIN APPROACH S6 GPS WACH AND TRUSWING BUNDLE
  20. SERTA® CONTOUR MEMORY FOAM OR FOREVER COOL PILLOW
  21. AUGASON® FARMS EMERGENCY FOOD SUPPLY AND/OR SIMPLY MEAL PACK
  22. WISE® COMPANY 4 MONTH FOOD SUPPLY AND/OR 3 MONTH GLUTEN FREE MEAL KIT
  23. HISENSE CLASS 4K SMART TV
  24. HP JET PRO MFP M477FNW COLOR LASER PRINTER
  25. EVERLAST SPAS™ PREMIERE 80 JET SPA
  26. CROCK-POT® 6-QT. COOK AND CARRY WITH LITTLE DIPPER
  27. BOSE SOUNDTOUCH 130 HOME THEATER SYSTEM
  28. LOGITECH® HARMONY TOUCH SMART REMOTE

Etc.

28 items in the Harvard University Press, Literature & Culture 2017 Catalog:

  1. NOTHING EVER DIES: VIETNAM AND THE MEMORY OF WAR
  2. THE POEM IS YOU: 60 CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN POEMS AND HOW TO READ THEM
  3. DANTE: THE STORY OF HIS LIFE
  4. A FLOATING CHINAMAN: FANTASY AND FAILURE ACROSS THE PACIFIC
  5. THEORY OF THE NOVEL
  6. THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE TALKING BOOK
  7. THE LETTERS OF ROBERT FROST, VOLUME 2
  8. TRACK CHANGES: A LITERARY HISTORY OF WORD PROCESSING
  9. EMILY DICKINSON’S POEMS, AS SHE PRESERVED THEM
  10. MARVELLOUS THIEVES: SECRET AUTHORS OF THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
  11. TAMIL : A BIOGRAPHY
  12. ELIZABETH BISHOP AT WORK
  13. COOL CHARACTERS: IRONY AND AMERICAN FICTION
  14. FLAUBERT
  15. BROTHERS OF THE QUILL: OLIVER GOLDSMITH IN GRUB STREET
  16. THOMAS HARDY: HALF A LONDONER
  17. JUST AROUND MIDNIGHT: ROCK AND ROLL AND THE RACIAL IMAGINATION
  18. THE LYRIC IN THE AGE OF THE BRAIN
  19. RACE AND THE TOTALITARIAN CENTURY: GEOPOLITICS IN THE BLACK LITERARY IMAGINATION
  20. AUTHORS IN COURT: SCENES FROM THE THEATER OF COPYRIGHT
  21. THINKING WITH KANT’S CRITIQUE OF JUDGMENT
  22. BLAKE; OR, THE HUTS OF AMERICA: A CORRECTED EDITION
  23. MANSFIELD PARK: AN ANNOTATED EDITION
  24. THE TOPOLOGICAL IMAGINATION: SPHERES, EDGES, AND ISLANDS
  25. THE DREAM OF THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL
  26. WALTER BENJAMIN: A CRITICAL LIFE
  27. ONE-WAY STREET
  28. THE STORY OF ALICE: LEWIS CARROLL AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF WONDERLAND

I was struck by the similarity of shape and size of the two catalogues in contrast with their (apparently) diametrically opposed purpose, meaning and mostly language. By aligning the font and giving a similar number of items I tried to emphasize those similarities and differences.
I was captivated, slightly amused and repelled by the new language created by marketing, with its initialisms and the newly coined trademarks, a language that can appear in turn foreign, futuristic, or slightly comical.
I thought this was a snapshot of society now, the languages that have developed from its evolution up to this point. I was also interested in the two different levels of consciousness: Sam’s club catering to buyers motivated with material comfort and technology, and a sort of paranoia (the home security systems, the emergency meal kits), and a desire for entertainment or protection of riches.
On the other hand the Harvard brochure was offering the language of intellectual pursuits away from obvious material pragmatism, although I know that the two worlds of thinking might not be mutually exclusive.

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