ON COLLECTING

2007 | Hello World!

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For as long as I can remember, I've felt this inherent desire not only to collect,
but to categorize things. Whether it has been through gathering rocks, attempting
to catch butterflies for 4H, acquiring aluminum for my foil ball, or combing the
beach for straws in Mexico, collecting has always been a constant in my life.

I have, for a long time, felt that beauty can be found in the most seemingly
insignificant things, which is probably why I have also always had a fascination
and sentiment for ephemera, in particular. Before knowing what ephemera meant,
I was collecting things that others would normally discard; things like shopping
lists, paper hole punches, ticket stubs, bits of string, paper scraps, basically
anything that was intended for temporary use, or things that were left over.

The categorizing and ordering stage is, for me, one of the most satisfying rituals
in the process of collecting. I like to single out objects that I collect, to call
attention to detail. I also like to place things en masse, or in large quantities
to emphasize the minutia, or absurdity of the things that I collect. Sometimes
I like to arrange objects into compositions to draw attention to the connections
between objects or to establish new relationships between objects, while other
times I treat all objects with equal hierarchy by arranging them on a grid. When
the objects are seen in comparison with similar objects or seen in juxtaposition
with disparate items they start to have a dialog with each other. Often, when
these objects are placed out of context, the result can be even more stimulating.

There are various ways in which I categorize these artifacts: by shape, material,
color, size, intended use, or by association with a specific person, place, event
or circumstance. Recently I have been categorizing objects that I find one day at
a time, and arranging them in a grid. Each segment of the grid represents a day on
the calendar. At this point, it seems to be the most logical way for me to archive
my collections. I've also for about the past year been collecting or photographing
the floor sweepings each time I've swept the floor. There is a certain fascination
in the beauty and juxtaposition of the various things swept together after having
guests stay over, or working on a messy craft project. For instance, I currently
live in a 100 year old church which has been turned into a performance, practice,
and living space for artists and musicians. I have begun to document the aftermath
of shows that have happened in the performance space by photographing the floor
sweepings the morning after. The pile of debris left over is always so telling of
the events transpired.

I'm still not sure what exactly it is about collecting that I can't seem to get out
of my system. Perhaps there is something in the back of my mind telling me that all
of these bits, and scraps add up to a story that might be read in the future, and
that this story might somehow serve as my legacy, a continually growing time capsule,
or a puzzle that I'm putting together one piece at a time. I consider each object
that I collect, not only as a reflection or extension of myself and the way that
I view the world, but also as a reflection of my environment which continually
changes.

Collections have the ability to grow and change, and are never really ever complete.
That is, of course, the nature of collecting. It is a pastime that will always exist,
because it is human nature to leave behind some kind of legacy. It can be practiced
at any time, in any place, in almost any circumstance. Anthropological studies have
long been revealing things about people's identities through the objects they chose
to surround themselves with. Collecting is an inevitable human practice that serves
as proof that we are here and we are alive.


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MORE ON COLLECTING

2009

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I've written a bit more about the nature of my collecting habits, since this text
was published after noticing some trends, and determining that my collections fall
under the three categories. I've included this text below.


1. DAILY COLLECTIONS

Two-Dimensional: Paper/Notes/Diaries/Journals/Sketchbooks

I save each sheet of paper that I write, draw or scribble on each day. I do this to
show a record of things that I have accomplished, or things I desire to do. It also
serves as a reminder of events transpired.

Three-Dimensional: Mementos/Specimens/Trinkets/Objects/Charms/Bits

These items are usually associated with a specific person, place or event. They also
serve as a record of my experiences, and trigger fond memories. I can usually
remember exactly where and in what context the objects were found.


2. SENTIMENTAL COLLECTIONS

Two-Dimensional: Photographs/Notes/Cards/Clippings/Postcards/Letters/Artwork

Three-Dimensional: Sentiments/Family Heirlooms/Mementos/Artwork/Childhood Toys

These items are typically one-of-a-kind, and therefore, they are irreplaceable.
For me, these items trigger a sense of nostalgia, and bring back fond memories
of specific events, people and places. I also hold on to these items in hopes
that someday my future offspring will be able to enjoy them as I have.


3. EPHEMERAL COLLECTIONS

Two-Dimensional: Hole Punches/Paper Strips/Take-a-Number/Fortunes/Ticket Stubs

Three-Dimensional: Twist Ties/Bread Bag Closures/Beads/Buttons

These items are not associated with specific events, people or places, and I don't
have a sentimental attachment to them in that regard. I am drawn to these items
because of their inherent ephemeral quality. These items and objects exist to serve
a very short-lived purpose. By re-purposing these items, or simply taking them out
of context, I believe they are given new life, and aesthetic interest. I like to
arrange and categorize these items in regard to shape, color, texture, or group them
by similarity and likeness.


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