It was Heejae’s recent post titled, Back to the Future: The Los Angeles That Almost Was that sparked thoughts about pre-Internet media and its importance in cataloging and preserving not only the work of any profession – whether it be photography, art, architecture, graphic design, and of course, landscape design – but also the processes utilized by the professionals from those earlier decades.
For most of the modern era after the 1940s it was the magazine which held this distinction as cultural catalogue. Now they exist ephemerally – as long as the paper upon which they were printed stands against the inevitability of disintegration – a visual time machine for students of today to study and learn from those who worked out the solutions we now consider common knowledge. Some are being scanned and preserved online, but much is being lost out of ignorance of their existence and general disinterest in a time when looking forward takes precedence.
Amongst my favorite hobbies are attending estate sales and perusing vintage shops/antique malls, where treasures like old architecture books and art magazines collected by someone with a similar sense and sensibility from another era await. Additionally, Amazon, eBay, and various online book resellers also allow armchair browsing, with a plethora of sources to satiate the collector’s itch. But there’s no better joy than finding a box of someone’s collection of design magazines, dog-eared or bookmarked with notes, to peruse. For those moments paging through the past, I can imagine the world and all the possibilities of that time with the eyes of someone from decades long passed but a little less forgotten.