Futurefarmers (for this project Amy Franceschini and Michael Swaine), founded in 1994 in San Francisco, is an international group of artists, activists, farmers, and architects who work collaboratively to reimagine the environment and one's place in it.

  • For Want of a Nail

    For Want of a Nail

    Amy Franceschini, Michael Swaine, and Futurefarmers

    Three nails for J. Robert Oppenheimer, more than half a century after the Manhattan Project.

    For Want of a Nail takes as its starting point a series of curious memoranda sent from J. Robert Oppenheimer's office in October 1943 and archived in the Los Alamos Historical Museum, in which the eminent scientist repeatedly requests a nail in the wall upon which he could hang his hat. The persistence and specificity of the request for this nail inspired the international art collective Futurefarmers to create, by hand (and after more than a half-century delay), three nails for the theoretical physicist: one forged from a meteorite, one cast using 1943 steel pennies, and a third made by re-fusing Trinitite, a material formed by residue from the Trinity nuclear bomb test.

    Growing out of a site-specific contribution to an exhibition in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this book engages the region's complex nuclear history as it relates to land use, resource extraction, and the far-reaching decisions that were made within the Manhattan Project. Throughout this multidisciplinary project, Futurefarmers constructs a narrative that runs parallel, and in some cases counter to, the conventional accounts of the Manhattan Project and Oppenheimer, its chief architect. Through video stills, production shots, essays, and interviews—presented in a book with uncut, unopened pages that the reader may cut to access more images—For Want of a Nail not only opens new ways to think about the region's particular atomic history, but also prompts more general reflections on how knowledge and narrative are embedded and communicated in material objects, both ephemeral and ancient.

    ContributorsPeter Galison, Patrick Kiley, Lucy Lippard, Megan Prelinger and Rick Prelinger, Anne Walsh

    • Paperback $30.00
  • A Variation on Powers of Ten

    A Variation on Powers of Ten


    A Variation on Powers of Ten uses the opening picnic scene of Charles and Ray Eames's film Powers of Ten as score to guide ten discussions. The result of a research-based residency at the University of California Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the publication includes four essays and ten interviews with researchers whose work relates to one of the magnitudes of ten of the 1968 IBM-commissioned film. Like the stage of a microscope, the blanket becomes a stage where the act of inventorying and recording becomes the content of the work. Books, journals, food, and objects are recast and serve as cues pointing back to the film and forward to each researcher's own work. Powers of Ten is a short documentary film that depicts the relative scale of the universe in factors of ten. It illustrates the universe as an arena of both continuity and change, of everyday picnics and cosmic mystery. One iconic image from the film depicts a couple picnicking on a blanket, serving as a human-scale grounding for the macro- and micro-explorations in the film. Looking back at the film, Futurefarmers became entranced by the presence of the narrator, Philip Morrison, the production of the film, and the short amount of time the film spends at the human scale.

    In ten picnics, Futurefarmers journeys through fields of inquiry ranging from philosophy to ecology, microbiology, astrobiology, environmental science, geography, and urban studies. Comparing today's practices with those in 1968, researchers discuss the changing landscape of their field and the tools they use or invent to gather, quantify, and measure their research.

    Copublished with Bildmuseet, Umeå University, Sweden

    ContributorsAmy Franceschini, Peter Galison, Owen Gingerich, Walton Green, Jake Kosek, Abena Dove Osseo-Asare, Rick and Meagan Shaw Prelinger, Arthur Shapiro, Sara Seager, Michael Swaine, Elizabeth Thomas, Ignacio Valero

    • Hardcover $35.00