Sunday, November 20, 2011

Information Machines

Hands down, my favorite way to spend a Saturday is browsing the Randolph Street Market.  If you live in Chicago you should be familiar with this event, but if not, it is a monthly market at the Plumber's Hall at 1430 W. Washington.  I grew up attending hoity-toity antique shows where I was afraid to even look at some of the merchandise, but I also don't have the patience to pick through mountains of thrift store wares to find that one hidden treasure for 30 cents.  The Randolph Market is the perfect antique-thrift hybrid, with amazing finds at reasonable prices.  This weekend is the 5th annual Holiday Market and since it is the last market of the year, you know I wasn't going to miss it.

Normally the market is focused on furniture and housewares, but the Holiday Market primarily features vintage clothing, jewelry, and gifts.  Not in the market for clothes or jewelry, there was a little less for me to peruse this time, although I tried on a truly amazing 60's Ferragamo cape that I will be thinking about for years to come.  It really was that gorgeous.  However, I struck gold when I found this print at the bottom of a stack of $5 college-style photography (think lots of artistic reflections in puddles and lonely figures walking across the quad).
The print shows an audience at IBM's presentation at the 1964 New York World's Fair.
Check out those Mad Men hairstyles and sunglasses!
I did a little homework and found out that IBM's pavilion was designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen (perhaps you've heard of them?) and rested on top of a "garden" made of steel trees.  The audience walked through the garden and into the 12-tiered grandstand People Wall, which was then hydraulically lifted up into the egg structure known as the Information Machine.  There they saw a movie projected across 16 screens that explained how “both the human brain and the computer obtained sensory information, fed it to the brain (central processor), and through a program interpreted it to make some decision of what to do.”  You can see an early version of the movie here.  This was the first contact most visitors had with computers, and I don't think we can even conceive of how surreal and foreign the whole experience was.  I absolutely love that this photograph captures such a momentous event in their lives.  
Big thanks to Scout Modern for the information and ad above.

1 comment:

  1. That movie totally reminds me of the 1960's future of Tomorrowland at Disney World.