The Seinfeld Chronicles by Andy Kirk
The Seinfeld Chronicles is a limited edition self-published book of visual analysis exploring every episode of Seinfeld, released in October 2020.
The musicality of language is something defines the signature comedic talent of Jerry Seinfeld and, co-creator, Larry David. Like music, situation comedy has rhythm and it has texture. The rhythm is shaped by its temporal structures and pacing; textures are formed from the arrangements of characters and locations which amalgamate into the comedy. All orchestrated by the storylines and dialogue emerging from the writers.
It is the exploration of the show’s musicality that forms the purpose of this book. It presents a portfolio of visuals produced and intended for people who share my Seinfeld fanaticism. It is a body of work akin to giving the show something of a sports analytics treatment, investigating how Seinfeld and David utilised their resources - the people, places, and the dialogue - to translate their creativity from the page and onto our screens.
The data used in this study did not exist, it had to be manually captured through watching every episode and logging the times, categories, and characteristics of different events within each. Typically, each episode’s data was gathered via two full viewings. The first viewing noted the times of discrete scenes starting and finishing, the locations in which the scenes were set, and the characters who appeared (and when). The second viewing validated the data and recorded which characters caused the laughs (and when). This was a pragmatic solution to ensure the best quality data could be obtained in the most efficient way.
The final product is a 240-page (cover to cover) full-colour, A4-sized, perfect-bound landscape book. Weighing in at 1.1kg it is a dense beast, a physical manifestation of the work I put into it. Part A opens with high-level summary analysis and statistical observations formed across the nine seasons. It is organised around four distinct topics looking at Seinfeld’s structures, characters, locations, and laughs. Part B is the centrepiece of the book and shifts the focus of the study to a higher resolution of detail, with visual timelines plotting the composition of characters, laughs and locations for every single episode.
The book was launched in both a limited print format as well as a digital version of the document. For the print version - the primary intended format - 176 copies were made available for ‘sale’, with 176 being the number of written episodes of Seinfeld. This 'sale' was not a commercial one, rather the dissemination process followed a pay-what-you-want model with all proceeds, (after shipping costs), going to charity.
Upon launching the donation process, it only took two weeks for all copies to be snapped up thanks to some incredibly generous people. Ultimately, the two recipient charities, Samaritans and Rainforest Trust, shared a total proceeds collection of £5,180.80.