“Popular Pak”; (‘Milanogram/Milan Triennale/population growth). Yellow ‘envelope’ folder with pocket; ‘cover’ image on inside. Contents: eight pages 420mm x 150mm, folded; seventeen sheets, double sided, 210mm x 150mm, and one 300mm x 210mm. Not numbered or ordered, but punchcard codification down the edge of sheets. Sheets inserted in folder. Wallet taped shut and posted to readers. Price 5 shillings
Editor: Peter Cook. Panel: Dennis Crompton, David Greene, Ron Herron. Editorial Assistant: Geoff Taunton.
Contributors: Gordon Pask; Cedric Price
ARCHIGRAM 8, 1968
Interview with Dennis Crompton
So, next, we were invited round about that time to put in a section in the international section of the Milan Triennale, in 1967, and the theme of that Triennale was ‘The Greater Number’. It was basically at a time – mid-1960’s, late-1960’s – when world population was becoming an issue. I can’t remember the date of Bucky Fuller’s World Design Decade, but it was round about the same sort of time. So the whole thing about population was the topic for this exhibition.
We produced, obviously, produced a design for the Triennale itself which we illustrated in the magazine, which was this long inflatable sausage that sat down the length of one of the galleries, with a collage and projected film and projected slides onto the inside. There was an armature down the inside of the inflatable which we projected onto, and somewhere... Yes, there’s a drawing of the exhibition. So that’s the inflatable, down there, and then there was a model of the Suitaloon. Do you remember the photographs of David in the inflatable suit? This is the model and this is why David made the suit and came with it to Milan.
So, this issue we’ve produced to do with the Triennale itself and in a way was the catalogue for our section. Not the official catalogue or anything, we just sort-of stood around and had a few copies and it had various things to do with the basic theme. We call it the Popular Pak issue because it was about self-sustained environments which individuals carried with them. Like with the Suitaloon, the environment was encapsulated with the individuals...transportation pack or whatever it might be. There are various of our projects to do with that. Peter had this classification of each of the pages which you need to read, but basically he had half a dozen different topics to do with the Popular Pak and starred the ones that a particular page dealt with so that you could look through.
Again, if you look at the technology of the period, this is when you had punch cards – you know, you didn’t have computers, you had punch cards and sorters. I remember we had a system in the technical studies at the AA of punch cards where you had this great cabinet full of cards with all sorts of technical information on, and the edges were punched out depending on what was on it. You had these long needles, and you got a stack of cards and you put it [the needle] through the perforated holes, put it through, and all where you clipped out the perforation to be a slot the cards dropped out, so, it was a sorting system. And, not at this time, but slightly later, we used punchtape for controlling projectors in exhibitions and so on, some samples of which I still have. I don’t have the reader though.
So, this went on for twenty odd pages, printed both sides. The first three or four were folded pages, so that you got things like the piece by David and the editorial which we’ve passed somewhere. Yes, the editorial was on one of the long pages, so you’ve got those and you’ve got this timeline drawing that needed space, and a piece of David’s...so those were on long sheets which were probably printed two-up I should imagine looking at the size of it. And then the whole lot, the rest of it was all guillotined. And although, obviously, when you’re collating sheets you put them in an order, but there’s no particular significance to the order that they appeared in. But they took topics like ‘Exchange and Response’, ‘Comfort’.
And did the front and the back relate or not?
Not necessarily... you could say loosely... but then you could equally say that this relates to that just as much as that relates to that, so it’s not a positive relationship. They’re all on the same subject, but there’s a series of themes, like ‘Hard and Soft’ and ‘Comfort’ and ‘Exchange and Response’ that ran through. And then there were projects like Antoine Stinco’s ‘Travelling Opera House’ thing, and that would, if you looked at the edge stamping, you know, you’d find how that related or what it related to in the more abstract pieces. At least that’s the theory! I don’t know if anybody’s ever tested it.
Anyway, so then... another piece of David’s in there... And there’s a piece by Gordon Pask, I think three pages of Gordon’s. There’s a black page somewhere, in the project that talks about the Woburn Abbey, Summer Collection. There it is -- Ideas Circus. The front and back do relate in that case, the plans and the photographs of the model. But here it doesn’t. There’s ‘Emancipation’ on one side and an ‘Underwater Sea Farming’ piece on the reverse. Another bit of editorial. Again, here there’s a name that we need to pick up on in the credits, Geoff Taunton who worked on this with Peter. See, by this stage, the editorial isn’t dated but it’s around about 1967, ’66-’67. Peter was very busy now teaching and so on, and so he had this friend, or ex-student, Geoff Taunton, so Geoff did most of the paste-ups for this issue rather than Peter, but he’d have done them with Peter shuffling things round and so on.
And again, the thing explaining how we distributed copies of Archigram.
A Cedric piece. Oh, that’s where it is, I can’t remember where it starts, but it obviously starts somewhere and carries on; it’s over two pages, or two sheets. And a double sheet, but the other way rather than that way; Ron’s ‘Oasis’ drawing; and a thing by Francois Dallegret. It was either just before or just after I’d met him, because he and I both went to – what’s it called? – the Design Conference in Aspen, Aspen Design Conference. Yeah, we were both at that, so I get an email from him about once every six months. And by this time we already were working with a group at Hornsey College of Art, Light / Sound Workshop. We met these guys John Bowstead, Roger Jeffs, Tony Rickaby, and somebody else whose name I don’t remember immediately [Clive Latimer]. But they were around for the next three or four years, because we, as I said, we’d met them at Hornsey College of Art. The guy I mentioned, Tony Rickaby, worked on the presentation for the Monte Carlo competition.
Mike Webb: it’s a tower block, arranged horizontally. Alan Stanton: there’s a project of his from the AA, fifth year AA; and a couple of well-known, well, one well-known piece that David uses and a little model that Peter had made.
Was that pre-Chrysalis, was Alan Stanton a student at this time?
He was a student, yes. Yeah, Chrysalis came out in the next issue. And apart from all being loose sheets, the only ordering to them was that we always had this one -- well we probably always had them in the same order --but the only logic was that we had that on the outside because it said Milanogram. And then the other two double spread sheets were folded around the single sheets. Well, obviously there are four of those because they’re two sheets cut in half.
And then this was made as a pocket so that the lot slipped in there, that was then folded, bit of tape on there, and the name and address and the stamp on the outside. It’s all thought about, see? It’s all thought about.