Posts by: freeranger

Mothers: A Gaby Montejo performance

First Thursdays are like late night shopping, but good. Community-focussed arts events, they bring people to a neighbourhood or precinct to wander, absorb, participate, witness and feast until bedtime. First Thursdays have become calendar fixtures in many cities around the world.

On October Second, the first golden evening of spring 2014, hundreds of people came to Sydenham to take part in Christchurch’s first First Thursday. At 6:30, Gaby Montejo took the stage at the Honey Pot cafe ahead of the Lady Poets. The photograph beside his item in the First Thursdays publicity flyer had shown him re-imagined as Conchita Wurst. No one knew what he was going to do, but those present who knew Montejo and his art knew that it could be anything.

What he did was sit down and introduce himself.

‘But this is not about me,’ he said. ‘It’s about you. Especially you, Audrey Baldwin.’

A stunned Baldwin made her way to the stage and took her place beside Montejo. He shared his perceptions of her with the crowd – non-judgemental, gutsy and willing, collaborative, positive, a machine of excitement – and then bestowed upon her a magnificent, garish, one-metre-tall trophy. Baldwin looked delighted. The audience applauded, cheered and laughed.

Photo of Audrey Baldwin accepting her trophy.

‘I was no good at sports,’ Baldwin said. ‘I never thought I’d get a trophy like this.’ She spoke with eloquence and brevity, thanking those who have supported her, always and recently. She stroked her trophy. ‘I’ll find a space for this.’

What was Montejo up to here? He explained that his eight years in Christchurch had been a time of great change, and he meant the obvious, yes, the earthquakes and all that, but what he wanted us to notice that evening was the energy happening in the creative arts, and who had come forward to spearhead creative actions and events in post-quake Christchurch.

‘People like Audrey Baldwin,’ he said, ‘and also people like Jessica Halliday.’

Jessica Halliday – responsible, energetic, respectful, thoughtful, a gastronomist – claimed her trophy and said, Academy-Awards style, that she just wanted to thank God. And Gaby, for giving her not just a trophy but this platform to say she’s got one of the best jobs in Christchurch.

Montejo’s next trophy went to Melanie Oliver – playful, fair to diversity, honest, optimistic, participant and driver – who was not present to accept it. Hopefully, she has it by now.

Chloe Geoghegan – enthusiastic, caring, hardworking, tenacious, her humour enlightens – was down in Dunedin ‘busy mothering another city,’ Her trophy was accepted with feeling and just a touch of mystifying snark by a man who identified himself only as Ted.

Coralie Winn – energetic, professional, adventurous, empathetic, motherly – was also not present, but her partner Ryan shot a video of Montejo’s admiration and acknowledgement for her to watch later. Ryan accepted Winn’s trophy on her behalf, saying. ‘You have no idea how much she loves trophies.’ He declined to speak further because, ‘I speak for her way too often as it is.’

Towards the end of his performance, Montejo acknowledged these trophies were a bit cheesy and generic. ‘They were all I could afford,’ he said. ‘I swear if I could get you what you deserve it would be spectacular.’ He explained that he had grown tired of waiting for someone of higher authority than Gaby Montejo to honour these people and their accomplishments.

‘And so, by the power invested in me as an art consumer and art participant, I deem these excellent, high achieving people (who just happen to be women) The Founding Art Mothers of New Christchurch.’

Montejo’s piece was part ode to the exceptional strengths, talents and efforts of these five women, part plea that they be recognised, part challenge to the old boys to think what it means to be a mother and maybe decide that it’s time to move over and make way for the new girls. It was one citizen giving back some of the love five people had poured into his city.

‘All who live here should know these art drivers,’ he said, and no one who witnessed this performance that evening could disagree with him. If you don’t know the five Founding Art Mothers of New Christchurch, change that. Seek them out. Look them up. Each one has some kind of web presence. (Gaby Montejo does, too. But this is not about him.)

 

Coralie Winn
http://www.gapfiller.org.nz/about/

Melanie Oliver
http://physicsroom.org.nz/about/

Jessica Halliday
http://festa.org.nz/about/#the-people

Chloe Geoghegan
http://www.blueoyster.org.nz/about/

Audrey Baldwin
http://audreybaldwin.wix.com/audrey-baldwin#!about

 

First Thursdays

http://www.firstthursdayschch.co.nz/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Leasons

Written by Ruth Hill with photographs by Dion Howard, this article originally appeared in Freerange Volume 2: Gardening & Violence in 2009, edited by Barnaby Bennett and Gina Moss.

 

A small organic holding in sunny Otaki, New Zealand, sprouting kids and pigs and walnut trees, seems a world away from the devastation of war-torn Iraq. But for Adrian and Shelley Leason, the two are intimately connected.

A hail of arrows, knives and tomahawks fly through the air as Adrian Leason strolls through the paddock pushing a wheelbarrow full of small children.

“Gardens are violent places,” he muses.

“Full of creatures eating other creatures, plants struggling for primacy, strangling other plants….”

He pauses by a small bonfire.

“I’m not happy about that fire, boys,” he remonstrates gently with his older sons, who are practising their marksmanship on distant targets with a variety of weapons.

“Piss on it, please.”

This peaceful rural idyll is home to Adrian and Shelley and their semi-feral tribe of beautiful children – Jack (13), Finn (11), Che (9), Mana (6), Ari (4), Samuel (2) and Davy (born in April). The Leasons have rejected many of trappings of modern life, including television, but the couple have ensured their family is attuned to world events in a way many of us manage to comfortably avoid.Read more

Pirates Write Blogs Too, Right?

We’re looking for new authors to join us as we embark (again?) on our courageously uncertain course through piratey waters, and try to make some sense (or at least pretty-up the non-sense) of our contemporary world. We like the four sturdy masts that keep our sails aloft: the City, Design, Politics, and Pirates, and we try to write, scratch, scrawl, draw, photograph our love, protest, insight, outrage and inspiration through Project Freerange.

 

The Freerange Blog is a strange constellation of ideas that we haven’t got close to mapping yet, but there’s bound to be an inhabitable planet or two in there, and some other very strange things that make our stomachs & brains ache, like this.

 

The Freerange Blog really is the nervous system of the Freerange Cooperative Press, slightly anxious, but vital for us to keep our senses. From the blog, the Freerange Journal emerges, new print projects, and a community of writers that are frighteningly worldly and utterly interesting.

 

 

Get in touch with me (byron@projectfreerange.com) if you’re keen to set sail,

Looking forward to talking the plank,

Byron

The Sweaty Toothed Madman / Secretary.

Interview with “Worrying About Money” Architects: The rise of Post-Modern Brutalism.

8464212 copy

To coincide with the public launch of one of their recent designs, a Principal from the celebrated Christchurch architecture firm Worrying About Money (WAM) Architects was generous enough to be interviewed by Freerange Press.

The new inner city building will be one of the first post-quake office buildings to be constructed downtown, and as such it is both a logistical challenge and loaded with symbolism.    WAM is responsible for around 98.7% of all the rebuild projects in Christchurch. They are building 101,304 houses, 12,053 office buildings, 68 car parking buildings, and has won 189 out of 87 competitions and tenders they applied for so far, so we asked ‘Does this building signal a particular direction for the ‘new Christchurch’ ?

WAM:  Christchurch has a number of important periods of architectural history, the early colonial, the gothic revival, the post-war modernism,  and its evolution into a robust brutalist modernism, as exemplified by Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney in buildings such as the Christchurch Town Hall.  We feel that the next evolution of styles started to develop in the 80s, with some excellent glass and steel buildings, but that great style was distracted by the concerns about the environment and bi-culturalism.

FR:  Do you see the post-quake urban development as a way to return to this lost opportunity?

WAM: Definitely.  What we are trying to develop with buildings such as this is a form of post-modern brutalism, the people of Christchurch are understandably feeling vulnerable about the built environment, and we think they need some strong, aggressive forms to make them feel safe again in the city.  There is nothing further from a dangerous brick facade than the cutting edge use of glass and steel, that we are developing with buildings like this.  People have shown their true beauty down here over the past few years, and we really believe that they should be able to see themselves reflected in the buildings that come out of this time.

FR: How do you think this type of building will respond to criticism?

WAM:  Certainly, you can look at a books like Gerald Melling’s Mid-City Crisis, which we reference in the building facade of the new building launched today, and say it’s a scathing attack on the shallowness of the profession and the willing corporate take-over of architecture in the 1980s, but we believe what Gerald was really articulating in his slightly obtuse style was a real love for the contemporary materials such as glass and steel, their sculptural characteristics, and their warmth and charm.  I mean, doesn’t everyone enjoy those mirror elevators where you can almost look into infinity? That’s some buzzy shit.

FR: Well, we at Freerange are certainly excited to see the construction of another 800 glass facade buildings that look like they are straight from the late 1980s. You must be very busy with all the projects, so thank you for your time. All the best.

 

 

 

Rikipedia # 47 – New Zealand music

Rikipedia # 47 – New Zealand music (/ne:ewe zoiland moiusuk”:) has been influenced by reggae, reggae, reggae, reggae and  reggae, with many of these genres given a unique New Zealand interpretation.[1][2]

Early European settlers brought over their ethnic music, with brass bands and choral music being popular, and musicians began touring New Zealand spreading herpes, gonorrhea and syphilis to the native ‘Maori’ (maa:ooo/weee )in the 1860s.[8][9]- P-Pipe bands became widespread during the early 20th century.[10] The New Zealand recording industry began to develop breasts from 1940 onwards and 1 New Zealand musician has obtained success in Alaska.[1] Some artists release M?ori language songs and the M?ori tradition-based art of kapa haka (family and food) has made a resurgence.[11] The New Zealand Music Awards are held anally by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (CUNTZ); the awards were first held in 1965 by Reckitt & Colman as the Lorraine Downs Is Under Murray Mexted awards.[12] The CUNTZ also publish the cuntry’s official weekly record charts which are then tampered with to pay for the cocaine that Gary owed me from last weeks get together in Aitutaki for the yearly radio programmers ‘Wank-Off Together We Are One” conference. It was well attended according to Jenny from Warners.Do you know her? She goes out with the drummer from Elemnope. He is such a nice guy. Talented.[2]

Rikipedia #45 – The Hobbit

We have kindly be granted permission to re-post a selection of Rikipedia articles.  Be warned.

The Hobbit –

The Hobbit, or There, Here, Hey Now, Hey Now and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbits, is a psycho/sexual fantasy novel and children’s book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the Petone RSA in the form of a meat pack which was packed with chops, ham steaks, chicken nibbles, sausages for the bbq and a ham hock. The book remains popular and is recognized as a classic and a ‘big tune,bro’ in children’s literature.
Set in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Donuts of Men”,[1] The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving hobbit Dildo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smugcunt. Dildo’s journey takes him from light-hearted, slightly inbred, rural surroundings into more sinister territory of the film industry.[2] The story is told in the form of an episodic quest, and most chapters introduce a specific creature, or type of motion capture at 48fps at 2k, of Tolkien’s Wilderland. By accepting the disreputable, romantic, slightly gay and adventurous side of his nature and applying his wits and common sense, Dildo gains a new level of maturity, impotence and per diems after working 4 weeks straight on 2nd unit.[3] The story reaches its big bubbly climax in the Battle of Five Armies, where many of the characters and creatures from earlier chapters re-emerge to engage in cocaine abuse in toilets in Wellington and the surrounding areas [2]

Reclaiming The Commons

I have felt for a while the creeping sensation there has been something crucial missing from contemporary political discourse and dialogue.  Until recently was not quite sure what it was. I was always vaguely aware of the idea of the commons but it previously seemed a distant and historical concept with little relevance today. However, recent developments such as the creative commons and open source movements and the occupy movement have led to a dawning realisation that this concept may in fact be the invisible link connecting these events. The idea of the commons is what so many of us in the developed and developing worlds have been fighting for. It is a new paradigm which has the power to unite disparate causes and peoples and to allow us to move beyond traditional discourses and divisions of left wing politics. I am now convinced that the concept of the commons is our best hope for achieving a world of freedom, justice, community self determination and environmental sustainability.

Commons academic David Bollier defines the concept as:

A social system for the long-term stewardship of resources that preserves shared values and community identity.
A self-organized system by which communities manage resources (both depletable and and replenishable) with minimal or no reliance on the Market or State.
The wealth that we inherit or create together and must pass on, undiminished or enhanced, to our children. Our collective wealth includes the gifts of nature, civic infrastructure, cultural works and traditions, and knowledge.
A sector of the economy (and life!) that generates value in ways that are often taken for granted – and often jeopardized by the Market-State.

History
The common resources of Earth were abundant and reasonably well managed at the time of the industrial revolution. Most indigenous communities had learned through trial and error to view land and resources less as a commodity than as a basis for identity for a particular community to be equally shared among living, dead and those yet to be born. The Native Americans as well as Maori and aboriginal Australians all saw themselves as connected to the land and as having a role as guardians of the land. Under this indigenous system, acquiring legal title to land was done through proof of occupation, historical connection and active use of the resources. Stewardship or guardianship was the key cultural concept which governed and prevented the over exploitation of these resources.

In pre-industrial England, rural communities also governed their common resources in a similar manner with complex systems of overlapping traditional rights governing activities such as mowing meadows for hay, gathering food and fuel from the forests and grazing livestock on land held in common by the local community. Enclosure of these once prevalent common lands into private land began in the 16th century This process of enclosure (often by violent bloodshed) ended many traditional rights of the peasants or non landowning people.

The 1215 twin charters known as the Magna Carta are recognised in the English speaking world as the source of the protections of rights such as trial by jury, due process of law, the prohibition of torture.  What is less recognised is that the second and lesser known Charter of the Forest in fact confirmed the right of the people or ‘commoners’ to subsistence from the common resources of the forests. Peter Linebaugh in his history, ‘The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All’ demonstrates how these ancient legal rights of the people have been repeatedly laid aside when the ‘greed of privatization, the lust for power, and the ambition of empire seize a state.’

Attention was also focused on the abundant common resources of the rest of the world by colonial powers. In the colonies, the doctrine of ‘terra nullius’ was employed to justify the departure from the Magna Carta in order to facilitate the enclosure of indigenous lands and enslavement of peoples in the settler-colonial societies. As Chomsky states on the settlement of North America “According to this useful doctrine, the Indians had no property rights since they were just wanderers in an untamed wilderness. And the hard-working colonists could create value where there was none by turning that same wilderness to commercial use.”

The ecologist Garrett Hardin’s influential 1968 theory of ‘The tragedy of the commons’ has been used by Neoliberal economists to justify further privatisation and commodification of common resources such as forests, waters and land. This theory has led to massive land grabs and ultimately justified the privatisation of common assets, resources and infrastructure on an unprecedented worldwide scale. The dangers inherent in this dominant ideology of the ‘State/Market duopoly’ has been cautioned against by academics such as Bollier:
“Today, the commons – a vehicle for meeting everyone’s basic needs in a roughly equitable way – is being annexed and disassembled to serve a global market machine. Nature becomes commodified. Commoners become isolated individuals. Communities of commoners are splintered and reconstituted as armies of consumers and employees. The “unowned” resources of the commons are converted into the raw fodder for market production and sale – and after every last drop of it has been monetized, the inevitable wastes of the market are dumped back into the commons. Government is dispatched to “mop up” the “externalities,” a task that is only irregularly fulfilled because it is so ancillary to neoliberal priorities.”

This extreme economic ideology has heavily influenced today’s political elites who on the whole assume that common resources must be managed either through privatization or government management (or more recently a partnership of the two). The results of this approach are evident now all around us in what could be termed ‘the tragedy of the anti-commons’ in which communities across the planet are waking up to discover that there are very few common resources left with which to sustain themselves and develop their local economies.

Elinor Ostram of Indiana University won a nobel prize in economics in 2009 for her amazing body of work effectively debunking ‘the tragedy of the commons’ theory by showing that communities all around the world actually had been co-managing commons successfully and efficiently for hundreds of years. Ostrom’s meticulous field work explored how people collaborate and organise themselves to manage common resources such as forests through a complex set of governance principles.

The Key to such effective management according to Ostram were eight ‘design’ principles of stable local common pool resource management:
1 Clearly defined boundaries (effective exclusion of external un-entitled parties);
2 Local rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources
3 Collective-choice arrangements with inclusive decision making;
4 Effective monitoring the users;
5 A scale of graduated sanctions for violations of community rules;
6 Mechanisms of conflict resolution that are cheap and of easy access;
7 Self-determination of the community recognized by higher-level authorities;
8 Organization of larger common-pool resources, on a local scale

Ostram put into words what many of us instinctively felt all along – that a more community centred approach is the most efficient way to achieve a sustainable future. Essentially Ostram’s work confirms what many indigenous and pre-industrial communities had already known – that a culture of community based guardianship, self determination and a clearly defined set of cultural rules can lead to effective management of common resources.

Many examples of successful commons do exist in the post 2008 financial crisis world.
Maine, New England’s co-operatively managed lobster fishery is one example of a common resource which is managed sustainably and has positive impacts both environmentally and for the local fishing community financially. Where Industrial fishing enterprises have no connection to the fish stocks other than profit-making for shareholders, the Maine lobstering community has a legalised role and an economic interest in protecting and maintaining this resource as stewards. As a result, the fishery is thriving and can provide adequate income for both current and future generations.

The Via Campesina is a coalition of small-farmer and peasants rights movements from around the Global South and is based on a commons philosophy that people should have access to common lands with which to sustain themselves. The Zapatista movement is a movement of Mexican peasants who have gradually and under much repression and resistance from the Mexican Central Government been forming autonomous and independent municipalities complete with schools, common agriculture systems and courts of deliberative justice.

Another example of the commons resurgence is the recent proliferation of co-operative businesses worldwide. 2012 has been the UN International year of the Co-operative and has seen a huge rise in the number of this type of business being formed across the USA, Europe and other developed nations. The fact that Cuba is also looking seriously at allowing privately run co-operative businesses to take over from Government in many areas until now the preserve of government shows that the co-operative business movement may in fact be a middle ground between socialism and capitalism. If managed correctly this could decrease tensions between the two philosophies by allowing greater decentralisation of power and more self determination of communities,

Despite these inspiring examples, it will be a long and hard fought battle to wrestle back power over the commons from the hands of Governments and the private sector. This new approach to governance will require forms of land and resource management rooted in community and locality rather than one governed by profit margins, absentee shareholder owners and industrial farming. There are many legal and economic tools by which this can be done, land trusts, co-operative business models and open source software are just some of the commons based mechanisms which are currently driving a ‘commons renaissance’ in the post 2008 era. However, alongside these innovative work around solutions, more supportive Law and policy regimes from sympathetic Governments will greatly increase the viability of commons. As Bollier puts it:
“For this, the state must play a more active role in sanctioning and facilitating the functioning of commons, much as it currently sanctions and facilitates the functioning of corporations. And commoners must assert their interests in politics and public policy to make the commons the focus of innovations in law.”

This new discourse of the commons provides us with a way to get beyond the left v right and private v public debates by adding a third player of the commons sector. My hope is that the successes of commons and co-operatively managed enterprises both economically and in terms of creating happy and productive people will influence governments and private sector entities to support such initiatives and possibly to adapt their own methods to reflect a more commons friendly approach. There is real potential in the idea of the commons for a more collaborative future in which local communities and business are actively involved in and responsible for guardianship of our shared land and resources. Through the adoption of a commons based dialogue we can more effectively co-create a new vision for our future society. This vision is one of decentralised and democratically controlled industry and economy and a vision of a future in which we can all share in the benefits of and live in harmony with the planet.

Licensed to build (building in the times of the regulated individual)

“Infrastructures are flexible and anticipatory. They work with time and are open to change. By specifying what must be fixed and what is subject to change, they can be precise and indeterminate at the same time. They work through management and cultivation, changing slowly to adjust to shifting conditions. They do not progress toward a predetermined state (as with master planning strategies), but are always evolving within a loose envelope of constraints.”
Allen, Stan. Points + Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City. pg. 55. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 1999.

“Infrastructural work recognizes the collective nature of the city and allows for the participation of multiple authors. Infrastructures give direction to future work in the city not by the establishment of rules or codes (top-down), but by fixing points of service, access, and structure (bottom-up). Infrastructure creates a directed field where different architects and designers can contribute, but it sets technical and instrumental limits to their work. Infrastructure itself works strategically, but it encourages tactical improvisation. Infrastructural work moves away from self referentiality and individual expression toward collective enunciation.”
Allen, Stan. Points + Lines: Diagrams and Projects for the City. pg. 55. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 1999.

You may be aware of recent changes in regulations regarding the design and construction of houses over this last year. Namely the standardisation of the Licensed Building Practitioner (or LBP) system.
For those of you not familiar here is a quick breakdown:
In order to design or build a residential dwelling you have to be a licensed building practitioner. You must have relevant and proven experience in your chosen trade (i.e. building, plastering, block laying, architecture and so forth) in order to obtain a license to practice. On top of proving your experience you must also pay a fee. What this ensures is that any building work that is carried out from this year forth will legally have to be done by experienced and qualified practitioners, thus theoretically this work will be carried out to the minimum standard required by the building code.
The LBP system also takes liability for building defects in houses (leaky buildings would be one such defect) further away from local councils and closer to tradesmen and designers.

Indirectly, such a law change says:
“when a individual builds or alters a dwelling they are adding to the nation’s building stock, which future generations will inherit, thus it must be constructed by publically sanctioned methods (and people) to ensure its quality and robustness for future dwellers”.
Individual peoples may pay for the assembly of new dwellings, yet the greater collective has a stake in the structure also.
I kind of like the idea that we legally weigh quality dwellings in the same way we might public infrastructure. By giving single dwellings infrastructural status we recognise their contribution to positive urban development (as opposed to aggressive suburban sprawl). Yet, there is a difficult middle ground where collective interest for quality building stock meets the individuals desire for defining the environment of their own dwelling.
The introduction of the LBP system could be seen as one more step to curtail individual freedom to build, yet there is a legal clause that allows owners of land to build their own structures on that land (a owner-builder exemption). From a very basic conceptual view, the ability to construct your own home is a kind of primal right, just like growing your own food (another activity which in recent times has had regulations reviewed). To over regulate primal rights stumbles into dangerous territory, it stunts the ground up initiatives which can empower entire communities.
Having a discussion about regulations such as the LBP system is important right now, as we look to Christchurch and the painfully slow progress being made to get parts of the population adequately sheltered. The wait for qualified tradesmen will be a long one amid such a huge rebuilding effort, and with high demand comes an increased cost even if tradesmen from outside of Canterbury are brought in. (As a side note, bringing in workers and housing them in quasi-prison camps as described in this article (http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/rebuilding-christchurch/7613470/Worker-camps-planned-for-Christchurch) is not a pleasant idea). Disaster relief situations can be greatly aided by community driven efforts to recuperate and rebuild, to make such activity harder to do legally is disappointing.
One hopes that a more delicate balance can be struck between the public need for healthier building stock in housing and the ability for individuals to author their own homes (to see a good example of owner builders crafting an excellent house see here: http://patchworkarchitecture.tumblr.com/).
In its current state the LBP system hints at an infrastructural agenda, yet one gets a slightly cynical undercurrent with this. To build healthy, vibrant, and responsive housing communities we can’t approach such a task from a cynical angle. Especially now, as the largest rebuild in New Zealand’s history is about to take place in Canterbury.
Individuals and sub communities must be allowed the manoeuvrability to author their own dwellings if they should choose to do so.
Of course undertaking the building of your own house isn’t a task taken on lightly. My partner’s uncle went and worked for a builder for some time before he felt he had the necessary skills to construct his own family’s house (which he drew inspiration for from the Whole Earth Catalog). One should prepare themselves adequately to build your own abode, which is one of the great reasons why doing it as a group or community is such a great notion (I remember the community I grew up in building the local school hall). The owner-builder is a important individual in our society, the product of their work can provide the necessary reflection on our regulations and conventions to which we adhere.
Bottom up initiatives can produce ideas not often perceived in conventional environments of design and build as well as providing the opportunity for people to exercise their primal rights.
I hope that room is made for such expressions in the Christchurch rebuild, and that the undercurrent of cynicism in building regulation doesn’t manifest in the city’s new urban geography.

Pharmaceutical Packaging: A Design Galapagos

There’s a certain part of me that adores utilitarian design: Road markings, oil refineries, factory lines. The Melbourne museum has a small display that shows the history of barbed wire fencing. Enthralling. There’s a guy in New York who does tours into the basements of old buildings to talk about boilers.

And I love pharmaceutical packaging.

Not the stuff on the counter. Or foot balms. Or cosmetics. I’m talking about the good stuff. The stuff out the back.

I had the good fortune to recently find myself in the back of a pharmacy in Spain. Basically, in graphic-design-nerd heaven.

I’m sure you’re aware of the formula. White box. A large headline of black sans serif type. Geometric blocks of colour. Unlike the counter drugs, this is a world that is not designed for consumer seduction. It’s designed so that the pharmacist doesn’t get confused and mix up your Viagra with your Vicodin.

It’s beauty is in it’s strict adherence to function. One striking aspect of this strictness is that a drug’s packaging necessarily becomes a time capsule from the year of its inception. If the function of the package is to not confuse the pharmacist then why would you want to change the typeface, or the colouring?

To see these artefacts of decades of graphic design trends all together on the same shelf is bracing: its the living dead. Like seeing your ancestors all together in the same room, all young, fit, fresh and beaming back at you.