then + now

Then + Now casts the readers view into the built urban environment and considers it as an archive that can be mined. In this particular case, I chose to investigate the layered histories of Roger Williams Memorial Park in Providence, itself a site of several noteworthy events in the creation of the state, and also an actively used public park and green space.

Drawing on my background as a programmer, I was inspired by the concept of object-oriented programming. OOP, as its sometimes called, is a strategy for building software based on little snippets of reusable logic called modules. The power of the module is that once its been designed, its possible to create as many instantiations of it as are needed and then customize them to their specific needs. What would happen when I applied the idea of modules to narrative?

I designed a set of four modules that could be taken into the city and used to extract narrative from the urban environment. But since the power of modules comes in their ability to be copied and then customized, then+now isn't just a system of extracting narrative, but also a set of reusable molds that can be used to cast as many narrative-extracting modules as possible. The combination of casting materials, the urban landscape, and juxtaposition of the modules combine to offer a limitless number of stories waiting to be told.

The process begins with making the forms. They are set in 256pt Georgia Bold Italic, because I thought the sturdy serifs and high x-height of web type would hold up to the casting process.

The positive module is cut out of insulation foam and set in a form. Silicone rubber is poured into the form to make a negative of the module.

The form is pulled away to reveal a silicone rubber negative of the original module.

The modules work as framing devices to extract narrative from the urban landscape.