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Steven McCarthy, MFA smccarthy@umn.edu 612 624-1729 address
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college of design university of minnesota

Unbroken Record

Memories fade and are forever lost without documentation. While digital means of communication have accelerated the speed and number of exchanges between people, text messages, Tweets, and email messages primarily exist as ephemeral instantiations – brief, fleeting, of the moment, but rarely archived in a long-term, tangible, and stable way.

While storing these messages electronically is possible, there are three major concerns. One, changes in device hardware and software make it challenging to access data over time (recall 3.5" floppy disks? Apple Macintosh OS 9 and earlier?). Two, the current trend for cloud computing and ‘free’ social networking makes data ownership, location, control and privacy unresolved issues. And three, it takes time and effort for people to filter their messages, organize them into a coherent narrative and archive them for posterity.

What form might best survive to be discovered in one’s basement or attic many years from now?

This project, an artist’s book in an edition of fifty, explores the undigitizing of electronic communication and fixing it in an analog medium. Ink on paper books, letters and cards – if kept moisture and light-free – have a life expectancy of many decades, even centuries.
Unbroken Record is a record of several conversations between myself and my family, none of whom thought that their words or pictures sent to me would be fodder for a creative project. This, I acknowledge, flirts with the ethics of privacy. Although anonymized for the book’s broader readership, and edited for content prior to inclusion, it is conceivable that some will be unhappy that their thoughts were included without permission (even if sent as group messages).

Unbroken Record has an essay titled World Building in a Crazy World: Our Digital Crisis by Jonathan Harris (used with permission) printed line-by-line on the fore-edge.

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Unbroken Record is 12x13" in size, and has 86 pages (43 French-folded leaves) plus covers. It is bound with three steel posts and has a die-cut slip cover. Digitally printed from collaged originals (at 100% scale) on Mohawk Superfine text and cover paper.

Unbroken Record was made possible by a University of Minnesota Imagine Fund grant.

The book is represented by Vamp & Tramp, Booksellers.

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college of design university of minnesota

 

college of design university of minnesota