Text by Danny Devos
The Birth(+)Fact(x)Death(-)Calendar originated in 1985, when its first version was published in an edition of 100. It was an A5 xeroxed calendar of 60 pages, with a selected listing and images included. The idea came when I was reading a lot of non-fiction stuff, biographies, true-crime and weird stories, and I processed so many dates therein, that I started to find interesting relation between various dates. Peter Sutcliffe aka The Yorkshire Ripper, for instance, is born on the same day as the Marquis De Sade. When noting down some of these dates, I thought this would make an interesting calendar, not the kind people tend to hang on their toilet to remember their friends and relatives' birthdays, but a calendar that would concentrate on striking facts, and mainly deaths. When people are born, they are not listed anywhere, there are no articles published, no reviews written. It is mostly at the time of their deaths, that stories are written, in retrospect. So in a way death brings us more information, provides us with more insight into a person's life, is a much more interesting topic.
The Calendar has been published every year since 1985; a revised edition in 1986, an update to those in 1988, an 'all memorials' edition in 1989, a '90 Killers for the 90's' edition in 1990, an 'Art Only' edition in 1991 and an Index in 1992.
Until then it had been my idea to finish the project in 1998. This peculiar year would see the Thirteenth edition of the Calendar, and 1998 is also 3 x 666, so I would have covered about half of all evil of mankind I guessed. In the meantime I had gotten access to a computer (Commodore 64!), so at least I didn't have to re-type every page when adding a date. The information was now categorised per day, and kept in 4 large files. Next to dates, I also collected photos. The goal was to publish, in 1998, a book of 365 pages listing all the entries and including a picture for every day. There would be 365 numbered, leather-bound books, and you'd only be allowed to buy the copy relating to your day of birth. Born on Jan. 1st, you could buy copy no. 1 and so on. Then, about 2 years ago, a PowerMac made its entrance in the house, and we got acquainted with its possibilities, and the use of interaction, CD-Rom's et al. So my idea of a leather-bound book moved on towards a CD-Rom, which would include not just text and photos, but also sound, color, movies, and most important: multiple searchable indexes. Then came our introduction to the Internet, and its vast amount of information and searchable links. Again a new addition of ways to diversify the data I collected in the Calendar.
I'm still working on the visual aspect and the ease of use for search methods. The main idea is that the Calendar can be a guide for the way you arrange your life. You get up in the morning and check the Calendar, hm January 1st, let's see: you can read J.D. Salinger's 'Catcher in the Rye', maybe whilst riding on a train, in the walkman a medley of Hank Williams and Maurice Chevalier, then visit the closest airport and do some plane-spotting: search for an Iljoeshin 18 and an Air India Jumbo, make sure you're arrested by an FBI-agent. If you're more fortunate hook the Calendar to your Powerbook and fly from Rome, Italy via China to Philadelhia, USA to Bombay.