Revolution Paper

John commisioned me to make a book featuring the works created by his MAS110 students this semester. It was a very rewarding experience that involved a lot of interaction with the students. We chose to make the books by hand and bind them using a traditional japanese technique called Stab Binding. It is interesting that Stab Binding is the first thing I haven’t found in Wikipedia since I started writing this journal. We used the legendary ACG powerdrill to make the holes in the books, and stitched the pages together with a thick transparent fishline. 20 copies, one for each of the 15 students, and 5 spares, just in case some copies went bad.

The printing process was a little of a late night nightmare. Brent offered to help me and we started printing on a Wednesday night (10:00 PM, after my mechanics class), using the PLW printer and a collection of assorted paper kinds. I found newsprint stock, one of my favorite kinds of paper, and impossible to find in small sizes like 8.5×11″, since a few years ago. I had to get a bunch of 9×12″ sheets and cut them by hand, because all the other papers l got came in a lettersize format. The effort was worth it, since it is such a great paper to print on. In Mexico we call it Revolution Paper. I think it got named that way around 94 years ago during the Mexican Revolution (Wikipedia strikes back) because all political propaganda (even Posada’s) was printed on that kind of paper back then, but I am not sure. And I remember the early days in elementary school, when I used to get those free government books full of stories for class. They were printed on a thicker variant of Revolution Paper called, of course, Education Paper. I discovered Ray Bradbury and Gabriel García Marquez between the pages of those books when I was around 7 years old.

As John explained in class about futurism, design and modernity, I drifted away with my own thoughts, thinking about the future, and the idea of the future. I am not sure, but I think it was Nicholas Negroponte who claimed that, where others “write about the future”, the MIT Media Lab “makes the future”. What future is that? The idea of a reality enhanced by technology might be older as science fiction. Do you make the future by claiming the future has to be made? Do you make the future by claiming yourself a prophet?

At least half of the inventions I see around here were described at some point by Ray Bradbury in The Martian Chronicles 56 years ago. I can dig back in history to approximately 400 years ago, when people like Cyrano de Bergerac (March 6, 1619 – July 28, 1655) were writing books like his Other worlds (The comical history of the states and empires of the moon and the sun). I find it truly remarkable that Cyrano is infinitely more famous as the eccentric adventurer of a successful french theatre play written in 1897, than as the incredible visionary he was as a writer. His books can’t even be found in english! Of course, other people -like Leonardo– were already “making the future” since before the fifteen hundreds. The future will get here no matter what, and I think the wrong idea of the future can lead us towards a place that might not really be the future. Are we really making the future, or are we obsessed with an outdated idea of the future that might no longer be such a great thing after all?

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