Handcrafting Code in a New Way

Turning pages from technology textbooks into an art installation for our office window display

by Nina Rogers

When we first started to decorate our office's storefront window display, it was a bit of a challenge. Usually businesses with window displays use the space to showcase their products, but our products and services are in cyberspace. What to do?

Answering that question has been a lot of fun. And it’s looked a little different every time, each display feeling like a new take on how to answer.

This latest installation continues the trend of bringing our development work into the physical world. Steven and I collaborated last time, coming up with more of a direct application. As a software developer, he was the technical brain behind the work and built a program that controlled an LED light display. This time, the theme is a little more subtle, a nod to the history of our industry and anticipation of its future.

To create this display, we repurposed old web development textbooks to show how code underpins the beauty of the web. Outdated textbooks are a reminder that technology is always evolving and building upon itself, and so this display is a physical representation of our work to stay current in an industry that is marked by continual advancement.

A few sources of inspiration led the way. First: pinterest (duh) with this loop de loop cloud of tear drop shapes coming out of the computer. Second: the appeal of using found materials instead of store-bought because it’s free and more of a creative challenge. Third: the relation of the page content to our work and the story it tells.

I think the whole display consists of about 2,000 pages and 3,000 staples in total, if my estimations are right. I also used fishing line and metal clips to hang the installation. But that’s pretty much it: paper, staples, fishing line, and clips. While the materials were simple, I will admit it took quite a bit of time. There were some late nights stapling and some hand cramping involved.

As I write this post, I find that there are actually more connections than I had anticipated. More than a reminder that technology is always evolving, it’s also a reflection of how sometimes we take “old” things, like dated websites, and give them a second life. At some point, we do eventually retire the “old,” with gratitude for what served its purpose for its time (Marie “KonMari” Kondo style), and we start fresh, like a new website or how I’ll recycle the paper from this display once it has run its course.

To take the concept even further, and I hope you will allow me to do so without thinking, “alright… we get it...” this whole second life and repurposing thing is a reflection of our office building. Originally home to a photography studio, some work had to be done to retrofit the building to accommodate our day-to-day work as a technology agency. One space I’m thinking of in particular is (and here’s where things come full circle) the window display. Where it used to showcase framed photographs that were taken inside the building, now its contents represent the work and company culture of a group of quirky, intelligent, and talented individuals on the other side of the windows and within: Foster Made.

We can make it together.

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