In “There Will Come Soft Rains,” a chapter of his 1950 dystopian novel The Martian Chronicles, Raymond Bradbury paints a picture of an automated house in the year 2026 devoid of inhabitants. This “home of the future” cooks, cleans and carries on unaware that its family is gone. Somberly, the story ends with the destruction of the house.
For A Library for Soft Rains Jason Urban uses this chapter as a motif of sorts to explore the growing interdependency of analog and digital printed matter. The various pieces in the exhibit process the Bradbury story through a range of technologies from high to low tech. CNC routers, rapid prototyping, as well as simple relief printing are employed to create images and objects that are both complex and rudimentary in their origins. As an artist interested in printed matter, the library as a physical tool for distributing knowledge is of particular fascination to Urban. The book is a conveyor of information, its endurance and ephemerality, and its evolution from utilitarian object to elite artisanal good is reflective of the changing cultural roles of both analog and digital.