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For Want of a Nail

Submitted on April 7, 2019 - 3:23pm
Steel pennies
Steel pennies used in Forging a Nail; image used in For Want of a Nail

3D4M Assistant Professor Michael Swaine is a core member of Futurefarmers, an art and design collective. He and Amy Franceschini (another core Futurefarmers member) created Forging a Nail for the SITE Santa Fe Biennale in 2014. Their piece was a response to New Mexico's complex nuclear history and the Manhattan Project led by Robert Oppenheimer. A series of memoranda in which Oppenheimer repeatedly requested a nail on which to hang his hat inspired a multifaceted research project by Futurefarmers.

A new book, For Want of a Nail, is the culmination of this research. This book is unopened or uncut. Futurefarmers asked the printer to skip the last step of book production, which involves a large guillotine to free the pages. Futurefarmers invites the reader to hesitate as they hold this book. How do you proceed? Do you make your own tool to open the pages? In addition to the research from Futurefarmers, contributions include essays and interviews from Peter Galison, Patrick Kiley, Lucy Lippard, Megan and Rick Prelinger, and Anne Walsh. The book is published by No Place Press and distributed by MIT Press.

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