Lost and Found

I started with the Lost book, thinking about different ways words loose their meaning. Words out of context, for instance, will loose their meaning. Illegibility and erasure, etc. I remembered, while thinking all this, about the files the FBI keeps on people. Once released, many of the files are heavily redacted. Anyone mentioned in the file who is still alive at the time of it’s release is redacted out, for instance, as is any information deemed “sensitive.” They are interesting documents to look at, because they are often completely incomprehensible. Some pages are just photocopies of handwritten notes often scrawled illegibly at odd angles.

For my book, I printed out several pages of the recently released file the FBI kept on Steve Jobs, specifically choosing pages that fought against meaning, cut them up and made them into a matchbook. Though the book is made up entirely of words, the pages end up functioning more like images. They are impossible to read, but somehow still give a clear picture. If not about Steve Jobs, then certainly about the FBI and the way they keep files, the bureaucratic chaos of keeping everything, even a scrap paper.

I enjoyed the process of making the book, but wasn’t entirely satisfied with the final product. If I had it to do over again, I’d use higher quality paper for sure. Because I printed the document at the library, it ended up being made out of normal printer paper.

Because I wanted the language in the Lost book to fight against meaning, I thought I would do the opposite for my Found book. I looked for images that told stories. Compelling images that raised questions, or showed a glimpse of a much larger event. As a frequent reader of newspapers, I decided to cut out the front page photos of several old New York Times I still had lying around the apartment and stab bind them together.

Again, While I enjoyed the process of making this book, I wasn’t pleased with the final result. I glued the newspaper photographs to white paper hoping the extra thickness would help keep the newspaper from tearing too easily. It did, but also made them difficult to fold in the way I had wanted. So now I know: glue doesn’t like to bend.

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