Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Project: Rebeccah Ulm Archives

I'm starting a new project.  It's still in its very early conceptual stages, but I feel comfortable writing about it now before I actually get to work on it.  Right now, the concept is a website.  I've already starting creating the new blog (there's nothing up yet, but it technically exists:  The idea is that I will post visual evidence of my existence.  The sorts of things a person would encounter after I've died, which would give that person a sense of the life I've lived and the relationships I've cultivated.  I want this to be extremely inclusive.  I'm talking scans of everything from Mother's Day cards to journal entries to sketch books.  I wrote in my sketchbook:
"I want this to include both the kinds of things that Mom would look at to remember me by and the kinds of things that future art students would look at to learn about me in their art history class [because if I'm going to construct my own personal history of myself, I might as well do it with the presumption of eventual historical significance].  Everything that is me is included.  Everything.  Not chronologically either.  Everything at once"

The only kind of "organization" I see happening here will be some abstract blogger tags: People (probably mostly photos of me with family members, friends; maybe some correspondences, depending on how I decide to deal with privacy concerns), Places (I've lived, visited, experienced--mostly photos, maybe descriptions from travel books or written accounts?  Press releases, photos from gallery shows/ museum exhibitions), Things (I've owned, collected, coveted.  This could get really out of hand--it could be everything from books to bracelets to albums) Thoughts/Ideas (this will likely be mostly journal/ sketchbook writings), Projects (resolved manifestations--there'll be some decision-making as far as what to include here).  This is purely a visual thing (scans of documents, photos of the aforementioned categorical items).  Each posted image will be accompanied by a brief description, of the sort you'd find on the back of a polaroid, or as wall text.  I think it'll be an interesting problem-solving challenge to incorporate "important" moments/events/relationships that were not photographically documented/ whose documentation has been lost. 

I suppose this whole thing will be a way for me to sort through some of my notions about history, identity, memory, nostalgia, etc.--how all of these things are constructed, what elements of our lives inform who we are, how much power we have to decide/ construct our own existence.  Can scans of emo journal entries and old family photos, combined with academic papers or intellectual musings really convey an accurate concept of who I am?  I don't know.  But that's the thing, isn't it?  What do we leave behind as evidence of our lives?  Can "history" ever really tell the whole story of a person, let alone an entire era?  And from what (whose) point of view was that history composed?

I think a really important element of this thing is that I am the one deciding what to include--I'm the composer, and the material is the evidence of my own life experiences.  Because I am alive, doing this in the present, the things I choose to post as evidence still have the capacity to affect the life I'm leading.  In this morbidly self-absorbed investigation, I'm going to look through all of the files on my computer, all of the embarrassing journals I've kept for years, whatever things my Mom has saved in the attic, my emails, etc.  That's a lot of very personal shit, with a lot of consequential power.  I haven't decided how to edit or if I will edit at all.  It might simply be a matter of timing--waiting until things become less potent before posting them (things that happened in elementary school don't seem as dramatic now, as I'm sure things that happened in high school won't seem so by the time I'm in my late 30s...or maybe they will...who knows?).  I guess it's a question of objectivity, if such a thing even exists.  Also, of privacy--what is private?  Do things cease to be private in the name of history?  Do I need to more actively construct some sort of narrative or mythology for this to count--like, pretend to write my own biography, but from the perspective of someone who is not me, but knew me?  I don't think I want to do that.  I want it to be more ambiguous than that.  And I'm only 23--I want there to be room for growth and development and adaptation as things change and new evidences are acquired.

Anyway, starting this project is dependent upon the new hard drive I just ordered arriving for me to back up the mess of files on my computer.  Once I've done that, I can clean everything out so that my computer will actually run Photoshop and Final Cut.  Then I can get down to business scan-wise.

This blog will continue to exist, because it serves a completely different purpose.  I'll update with recent projects after the hard drive situation is under control.