Operation Manual for the Worlds Largest Paper Spaceship (2020)

Reading Ours presents The Operational Manual For the Worlds Largest Paper Spaceship - organized by Robby Herbst

Saturdays, 12–4pm
December 14, 21, 2019 and January 4, 11, 18, 2020

Curatorial walkthrough with Robby Herbst
Saturday, December 14, 1:30 pm

Screening of The Wave
Saturday January, 18th at 3:00 pm

It’s a 12 x 10 foot poster, as a magazine, distributed as issue #13 of the Deschool Primer in 1974, published by the Zephyros Education Project. It’s as if Mad Magazine met with Peter Max who met the Halprins, who met Dick Higgins, and they all had a conversation with Stewart Brand. A billboard printer printed one hundred copies, and its colors are still vibrant. Trust me, it’s celestial, and I’m not sure it’s meant for the classroom or the art museum.

The poster’s central image of a spacecraft is framed by two sets of directions; one describing possible uses for the preposterously sized illustration; the other is twelve imaginative suggestions on how the illustration itself could be used.

The Reading Ours exhibition presents Issues #13, and #14, of the Deschool Primer, as well as the Big Rock Candy Mountain anthology (BRMC, 1972). BRMC was a Whole Earth Catalog/Portola Institute project influencing Zephryos. The theme of Deschool Primer #14 was games. It includes a section contributed by the New Games Foundation, and a section of computer games contributed by the People's Computer Company.

Zephyros published sixteen issues of the Deschool Primer between 1972 and 1975. It’s best described as a magazine meant for educators (of all stripes) interested in teaching to liberate. It’s strongly representative of the rich Bay Area counter-cultural brew, where humanistic ideology and active counter-power mixed to make interdisciplinary forms aiming to trouble and advance society. Zephyros was affiliated with a collection of highly idiosyncratic Bay Area organizations interested in expanding human knowledge; among them The Whole Earth Catalog, Big Rock Candy Mountain, Farallones Institute, The Peoples Computer Company, Sunflower Source, and the New Games Foundation.

The exhibition closes with a VHS screening of The Wave. Based on the story of the Third Wave written by Ron Jones (first appearing in the Whole Earth Review in 1976), The Wave retells the story of a classroom lesson gone awry. True to life, in 1967 Ron Jones was a new high school history teacher in Palo Alto when a students said something like "Nazism couldn't happen here in America". In 1972 Ron Jones is the founder of the Zephyros Education Project and the Deschool Primers.

See also: DrawingsReading Ours

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