Seeing Time: Selections from the Kramlich Collection of Media Art (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


The Kramlich Collection is one of the world’s most important accumulations of media art, a category that is ever challenging to reproduce in print form. This catalog for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art began a long and valued relationship between the institution and Appetite Engineers. The Kramlich Collection’s defining characteristic defies its presentation in book form. All the works are time based and most require installation to be experienced.

The design alludes to time’s passage and continuity with columns of tick marks. But time’s supposed neutrality becomes compromised and twisted as the book progresses. As a further gesture of continuity, the typography is crafted so that one paragraph’s endpoint sets the next one’s beginning indentation. The result looks elegant and simple, but the mechanics behind it were maddening since the structure had to be reworked every time a paragraph was edited!

I was drawn to the recurrent portrayal of the human face in the exhibition and highlighted examples of it throughout the catalog as a reminder that, despite the technology, all the work is created by and for humans.