REVIEW COPY: Obsessive Consumption by Kate Bingaman–Burt
At first glance Obsessive Consumption: What Did You Buy Today?by Kate Bingaman–Burt seems pretty straight forward. Kate has drawn objects, things and animals on a daily basis between Feb 2006 to Feb 2009. While each object is different, her recognizable drawing style makes all the miscellaneous consumption consistent. What makes the book worth looking at more than just the images are the personal annotations that follow each drawing. Because she’s dated everything a viewer can see what was important on Christmas or as one example I’ve shown, on Buy Nothing Day. Between the drawing, story and date a fascinating pattern emerges that shifts the book about being from design and becomes more of an anthropological or maybe a social study.
So why does Kate draw these objects everyday? In her intro she describes consumption as guilt, joy, excess, celebration. What the process of drawing does is help her pay attention to her finances and what lead to the purchase. While I don’t know how long an average drawing takes to complete, those minutes of reflection are something that more people should consider. While everyone doesn’t want to draw, if they took a couple minutes to focus on their purchasing habits they might change their behavior. While the book shows a select number of drawings the project continues today. She will be stopping once all her credit cards are payed off.
This is one of those books that I knew about before it was a book. I’ve been following Kate on the interwebs for some time between blogs mentioning her work, her stuff on flickr, her personal sites to tweets. We’re def. in the middle of a process that allows people to follow along while things are being made in real time, and over time allowing the best to be curated into other objects. A book like Kate’s is a great example of that.
While I suspect that this book is targeted towards the design crowd I’d like to see it sitting in different sections of a book store. It would be great to see it in a business section or economics section as an example of visualizing consumption outside of the traditional bar diagrams or pie charts. What the book shows is that there is a story behind every purchase, no matter how normal the day might seem.