Empty Trashcan is a project about the sense and non-sense of the 'personal' computer.
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The following texts and images are taken from the book 'Empty Trashcan' which i edited and designed in 2001-2003. It was published in 2003, by the Academy Press of Academy St.Joost, Breda. Re-reading the publication after several years i have to conclude that some references are changed, and even dissapeared Also my personal opinion towards some topics has radicily shifted, i am more sceptic now (2009) about the influence of the computer and it's applications. But since the book is not longer available i decided to make a short internet version which you find here. It does not (by far) include the complete content. Some parts are simply not possible to translate to another shape as the original book. A practical note: The text is based on the user interface of MacOS 8; the version before it all became 3D-looking on the desktop.

See What You Can Get
The metaphore of the desktop was develop in the mid 80's, and it still stands strong. Very remarkable in a swiftly changing marked as the computer marked. The succes is hidden in the simplicity (banality is maybe even appropriate in this case) of the system; if you want to save something, then you put it in a folder, if you want to save that folder then you drag it to the disk you want to save it to. Also the terminology is easy; 'cut', 'paste', 'copy', 'undo'. It is all related to terms a five year old child understands. But these references are not always visual. The word 'menu' find its origin in the menu you find in restaurants. Both deal with making choices. Visualy they do not look alike, but by using the word 'menu', it is clear for the user that he should make a choice.
     I am always intriged by the folders on my desktop. Available in several, very fresh, colours. These folders can be endlessly copied , and can also be put into each other. Also endlessly. They never seem to be filled. There is no limit in what fits. A series of 20 A0-posters easily fits in the lettersize-folder. But thinking about it; do the real folders still exist? I can not remember seeing one the last years. Will the desktop be a museum for archaic office-material? I still know where the icon is referring to, but will the next generation of computer-users also know this? Or will they simply see it as a sqaurish icon with a funny 'handle', that is a visualisation of "save object"? The icon will survive its original; Altanta and Leitz are losing ground to a bunch of pixels.

2001, 24 x 24 x 33 cm, edition of 1024 copies
The desktop on your computer is based on the perfect workstation: everything you need within hand reach. What happens if you translate this desktop and it's tools back into a materialized world? The american trashcan was the model for the wellknown Macintosh-icon that was sitiuated in the downright corner of the desktop. 17 years after this icon was designed by Susan Care, it was put back in the 'real world' by us. The trashcan-icon changes it's shape as you put an item in it. With only 1 Kb trown in, it looks as it is going to explode. In the later versions of the graphic user interface the 'exploding' trashcan is replaced by a trashcan with it top removed, so you can see it is full. I always thought this was a mistake since an open trashcan is inviting to put more in it, not to empty it.

Trashcan Evolution
(according to Macintosh)

The trashcan-icon devoloped in twenty years from a rough pixelated icon to a highresolution colour image with flashy sounds and even special effects. One of the first generation icons was developed by Susan Kare. She designed with very limited technical posibilities the icons which basicly founded an interface that still holdes. Because of the technique she had to make them very rough and black and white, but they were also extermely clear. 
Later on, when techique evolved, greytones were added, and colour, and after that, even sounds. Then the designers reached the point that the original trashcan (based on an 'outdoor' trashbin) was not usable for further details. So they had to find a new  'indoor' model which visualy looked more spectacular, but icon-wise is much weaker than the original trashcan. 
By changing this icon the designers are no longer guiding the user in his actions, but they are convincing the user that the computer he works with is a great and smooth tool, that was worth purchasing. 

Full Trashcan 
(used until MacOs 8)

2001, 30 x 20  cm

2001, 30 x 30 x 10  cm
'Suitcase X1' was in 2001 a common programm to organize your fonts.

Write Disc; Toast
2001, movie, 8:24 minutes
"To toast a cd" is a term we use daily, but if you really toast it, like the icon suggests, the result is quite a catastrophe.

Photoshop Clone Chair
2001, 85 x 110 x 54 cm, plywood, iron and rubber

Classic Light
2001, 30 x 170 x 30 cm, polyester and iron
The "Classic light" is a simple tribute to the Apple Classic. The shape of this computer is futuristic and nostalic at the same time. We used one computer as a mold for this polyester light.

Desktop Publishing
2003, 20 pages, A5, stapled, edition of 24 copies
When i was studying at the Werkplaats Typography in Arnhem i staid one night  over and photographed all the desks of my teachers and fellow students, i also made screenshots of all their desktops of the computer. I placed them neext to each-other and made a small publication "desktop publishing". 

Photoshop manual version 2.0
2003, 128 pages, 12 x 18 cm
Analog tuturiol book on photography overprinted with the manual of Photoshop 3.0.

Empty Trashcan
2003, 104 pages, size: 640x480 pixels, edition of 500 copies (sold out)
The projects menttioned above (and more) are combined in the book "Empty Trashcan". In this book i placed all the projects in a associative historical context. The book was published in 2003, at the Academy Press of Academy StJoost, Breda.

Empty Trashcan - The source
2003, 1644 pages, size: 640x480 pixels
This book consists the digital code on how a computer 'sees' the book 'Empty Trashcan'.

Lecture 'polyfonic ringtones and 3D-icons' at Centre George Pompidou, Paris
June 2003