Pippa (Philip) Garner: Better Living Catalog
Pippa Garner’s (born 1942) Better Living Catalog, originally published in 1982, takes the form of a mail-order catalog featuring clever, whimsical inventions that parody consumer goods and America’s obsession with ingenuity, efficiency, leisure and comfort. These works, which were made as prototypes and photographed for the publication, include the Reactiononometer, a portable wristband that instantly measures social success; the Digital Diet Loafers, which display the wearer’s weight with every step; and other items promising financial solvency (the controlled cash flow Autowallet) or mess-free companionship (the Pet-a-Vision TV console).
The Better Living Catalog was a pop hit when it was published, earning Garner spots on nighttime TV talk shows and attention from magazines such as Vogue and Rolling Stone. The works still resonate today, finding their analogue in many consumer products and―in the case of the High Heel Skates―even appearing unattributed in the runway collection of a major fashion brand. Around the time that the Better Living Catalog was published, Garner began her gender transition, which she has characterized as an artistic project with conceptual parallels to the altered consumer goods she has continued to create since the 1970s. This previously rare gem of an artist’s book is one of Garner’s few works to become widely available.