Inherent Narratives in Ad Hoc Collections

Part of my portfolio includes this project called Weaving Narratives: Possessions = Autobiographies, it is an exploration into how any ad hoc grouping of objects has some kind of inherent narrative, albeit a selected and limited narrative; but it is a narrative nonetheless.

When I was a boy I remember my father keeping a box of items that meant a lot to him.  I keep a box like this too.  The Italian blacksmith that I apprenticed under also kept boxes of items, but on a different scale; when he died I got one of those boxes: we call it a storage unit in American English.

As I was going through all of the contents of the storage unit I realized that there were real life stories attached to these items.  Some of those stories are true, others might be true, and some of them are fiction (i.e., speculation).  I started calling the items from the storage unit the story of How to Be an Old Man.

This really influenced how I started to put things together.  In fact, I wanted to create an abstraction of the possible story behind all of this stuff.  I started to think about books I have read and how I like the books that give descriptions of the little items and objects that the characters possess; these little details made the story more believable, less artificial…some how knowing about the possessions of a person gives them a sort of credibility.

Anyway, the image above is part of my attempt at crafting a book without words, and it is potentially an infinite number of narratives that can be construed and re-construed in any number of ways.  Think about it…looking at the image above, how many different kinds of explanations can you come up with for a narrative that strings them together?

Check out the downloadable .pdf file (11 page excerpt) of this project, and mix and remix the inherent stories however you want.  You can also view this short video I made about the project.

More to come…


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5 thoughts on “Inherent Narratives in Ad Hoc Collections

  1. i.ikeda says:

    One of my current projects involves immigrant narratives, and you just gave me an idea… The objects that make it through the journey carry a lot of narrative weight. Thanks.

  2. ryandewey says:

    I am so happy to hear that. Did you download the booklet? Inside the booklet there is an image of a slip of paper that lists the names of US states and their phonetic spelling…presumably so that the owner could learn for immigration purposes. That’s an interesting idea about the increased narrative weight! I would love to see your project when you are done.

  3. i.ikeda says:

    I tried to download the booklet, but lulu is telling me I’m not authorized to do it. I’ll let you know how my project progresses and how I incorporate this idea.

  4. ryandewey says:

    Thanks for letting me know…I had scheduled this post a while back and had since removed the file from Lulu and hosted it directly on the blog, long story short: I fixed the links. Let me know if you have any more problems. Thanks!

  5. ryandewey says:

    Here is a blog post that reminded me of how the stories of objects sometimes get separated from the object until someone weaves them back together again:

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