Ephemera

I always thought it was interesting that Warhol saved 600 boxes of random receipts and paper and junk of his. It really is a statement of the artist as art, or maybe celebrity-as-an-artform that prompts you to save random stuff like that for posterity. When I was nearing the end of my graphics education, I considered going on to do graduate studies in graphics and I put together a portfolio that reflected my taste at the time: print artifacts, stamp artifacts, old-world graphics put together and mixed with print tests and color samplers and stuff. I dug through the old folders to find some of the scans and just pictures of it, it really wasn’t as good as I remembered.

The point though, was that I had always wanted to make something kind of grunge, kind of using these artifacts to make a statement. At the time I didn’t know what that was. As I got older, I had to spend more and more time dealing with adult life type things – and one pattern presented itself for subject matter: the mail. I hate the mail. I don’t hate getting letters from people, obviously, but dealing with bills and notices and even mail I’m obliged to send produces an awful lot of anxiety. Being under-employed for a very long time has meant that significant bills – things like hospital emergencies or car repairs or home repair – things outside the scope of my budget have always been such a nightmare that opening those bills is painful by itself. When you can open a bill but can’t pay it – what’s the point? Worse – you may even forget about it and not realize you haven’t dealt with it. Leaving it unopened at least confirms I haven’t dealt with that thing. It’s not a very adult way of dealing with problems, though. So I found that I had uttered the phrase “oh god, the mail” often when looking at that pile. Not only that, but the reality is that most of those bills and relationships determine a lot of how my life is going to go – and it’s not so different from how people think about God – some people anyways – that God directs your life and you serve and worship and so on, and that’s what we modern people end up doing with the mail. So it’s kind of a double entendre. I finally capitalized on that style with my (I think) better design skills and made some compositions on the theme using even some of the hi-res scans I had in those folders (not unlike the Scarlet Dreams series in that respect). They’ve done well, and I’ve enjoyed finding new materials and scouring my hard drives for old ones and combining them to celebrate the beauty of dull mail artifacts while also the horror of what mail means for the underemployed.

This series came about around the same time that I was experimenting with a new series of collaborations with jrdsctt on Foundation around yet another pseudonym “Dr. Jaredos Scottsley” – which was a cryptic reference inserted into a Lazlo Lissitsky title. We took the name and the title of that book and made Dr. Jaredos Scotssley out to be an eccentric academic losing his mind, studying the various rabbitholes of existentialist philosophy pre-20th century and noodling on what kinds of designs represent his students experience finding his scattered desk after his disappearance. It also gave me a chance to experiment with black and white designs, which I have more or less avoided until now with the possible exception of some of the black mirror / mother / akira pieces. Jarid sent me some experimental sorting stuff, some threshold experiments and greyscale work – and I repurposed them with some of the techniques from my small quiet “books_on_existentialism” series (not much to say about that). We were both pretty happy with the results.

I also put together a small series of simple pieces of vault_excerpts for Hic Et Nunc – literally stuff from my files remastered and put together to make pleasing circles and mapped items and combined it with little scribbles and ideas and references to influences or projects. Finding success with these print artifact inspired pieces has been really fun – and a lot of people have told me they liked this stuff. It’s funny, too, because it’s some of the least technically difficult or glitched or code-using stuff I’ve made, and so it really does feel like an indulgence on my part that I’m glad other people enjoy.

These different series all kind of lumped under one theme or one technique was also a test: the mail series is on KnownOrigin.io and then has moved to objkt.com, Dr. Jaredos resides on Foundation.app, and the vault_excerpts live on Hic Et Nunc. So I was trying to do different things in one sort of vaguely united theme/style and adopting them to what’s appropriate for each platform. I think it’s worked out pretty well so far.