Longtime friend of Design Notes, blogger and now author James A. Reeves launched his book The Road to Somewhere last Thursday night at the powerHouse Arena. For the Launch he invited a number of people to share personal road stories along with James reading from the book. The guest readers would be quite familiar to those that follow design. One of my favorite designers out there, Candy Chang described road trips with her families white van. Amazingly every image show showed had the van in it. Unbeknownst to me, Adam Greenfield had access to military installations in the US. He talked about some of the installations his visited and how they have transfered over time. Cassim Shepard continued the talk by sharing some of his travels through a number of south western states. Gary Hustwit wrapped up the evening sharing the story of a guitar along with the artist that had used it. After he finished he brought the guitar to the front and sang a song from the previous guitar owner with the Wildwood Sisters! I thought it was a great way to end the event.
I’m really happy for James and this book. I’ve been following his adventures through his blog for quite some time. While I haven’t finished the book, it’s been interesting to see some of his thoughts started on the blog find another life in the book. Below are a number of spreads that I shot. I highly recommend this book if for no other reason than to read the thoughts of a unique and thoughtful individual that wouldn’t be found anywhere else.
This was the invite that went out for the opening (copy + pasted)
Book Launch party for THE ROAD TO SOMEWHERE by James A. Reeves
“The inspiration is so simple: Head out at random into America and see what you find. James A. Reeves found the America no one seems to be looking for anymore, and he also found himself.” —Roger Ebert
James A. Reeves’s photo memoir chronicles his journey of self discovery across America. He will be joined by Cassim Shepard, Adam Greenfield, Candy Chang, and Gary Hustwit for a discussion about how artists address the American landscape in their work. Featuring musical guests The Wildwood Sisters!
About ‘The Road to Somewhere’:
‘The Road to Somewhere’ is an unusual and seductive book—one that speaks honestly, and without pretension, about contemporary ambivalence and anxiety and the countless miles we travel looking for answers.
By the time he was twenty-eight, James A. Reeves had bounced through numerous jobs—everything from a carpet salesman and barista to an elementary school teacher and record label owner—eventually finding himself settled in New York in the early aughts, with the country itself on the verge of a nervous breakdown. While working at a design studio and also teaching, whenever he could find a few days he would buy a ticket to anywhere cheap, rent a car, and drive in the direction of whatever towns struck his fancy—Truth & Consequences, Delta, Dinosaur—racing blindly through back roads in Nevada and Indiana, South Carolina and California. He was troubled by his seemingly aimless career path and a general inability to know what should come next on the way to manhood, to a meaningful life; and he found himself unable to resist comparing his choices to the more straightforward and honorable path followed by his grandfather and, to a lesser degree, his father.
‘The Road to Somewhere ‘is a bold visual testament to taking it all in: the heartbreaking grit of lonely motels, the inescapable allure of the Vegas neon glaze, and the tremendous power of storytelling. In a time when so many invest in virtual relationships, this book is a celebration of personal interactions with strangers and a love song to the physical exhaustion that comes after hours of driving, when the road gets blurry and the voices on the radio sound like raw static. What results from his travels over 40,000 miles and almost five years is a photo-memoir that captures an American moment that is both unsettled and transcendent.
JAMES A. REEVES is a writer, educator, and partner at Civic Center, an urban design studio. He lives in New Orleans.
Candy is a public installation artist, designer, urban planner, and TED Senior Fellow who likes to make cities more comfortable for people. She’s passionate about redefining the ways we use public space to share information important to our neighborhoods and to our individual well-being. Recent projects include transforming an abandoned house in New Orleans into an interactive wall of dreams, an abandoned high-rise in Fairbanks turned into an emotional beacon for memories and hopes, and stickers that help residents voice what businesses they want in vacant storefronts. She founded Civic Center with James A. Reeves, a civic design studio in New Orleans, and she recently received a 2011 Tulane University/Rockefeller Foundation Urban Innovation Fellowship to develop Neighborland.org, a tool to help residents shape future businesses and services in their neighborhoods. See her work at
http://candychang.com/ | http://civiccenter.cc/
Adam is managing director of Urbanscale, a New York City-based urban systems design practice, co-founder of the collaborative platform Do projects, and author of ‘Everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing’. He teaches at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, drinks his coffee scalding hot and black, and sure likes him some doom metal.
Gary Hustwit is an independent filmmaker based in New York and London. He has produced eight feature documentaries, including the award-winning “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” about the band Wilco; “Moog”, the documentary about electronic music pioneer Robert Moog; and an experimental feature film with the band Animal Collective. Hustwit worked with punk label SST Records in the late-1980s, ran the independent book publishing house Incommunicado Press during the 1990s, was Vice President of the media website Salon.com in 2000, and started the indie DVD label Plexifilm in 2001. In 2007 he made his directorial debut with “Helvetica”, a documentary about graphic design and typography. “Helvetica” marked the beginning of a trilogy of design-related films, with “Objectified”, about industrial design and product design following in 2009. “Urbanized”, about the design of cities, will be released in late 2011. He is often jet-lagged and always guitar-obsessed.
Cassim is the founding editor of Urban Omnibus, an online publication for The Architectural League of New York. Alongside his editorial role, he produces non-fiction media about the design, planning, and experience of cities, buildings and places. He has lectured at New York University; Parsons, The New School for Design; The National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India; and The Cities Programme at the London School of Economics. He has exhibited work at The Musee de la civilisation, Quebec; The Cineteca di Bologna; The Salone del Mobile, Milan; and The Venice Architecture Biennale 2006. Shepard studied filmmaking at Harvard University, urban geography at the University of London, and urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently an adjunct assistant professor of architecture at Columbia University and a Poiesis Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University.
http://urbanomnibus.net/ | http://archleague.org/
With special musical guests: THE WILDWOOD SISTERS!