THE MICROFILM SERIES

Drawing series, 2011

This work is part of The Archive Series.

The drawings from The Microfilm Series are careful copies of scratched microfilm that I have collected while doing research on The Archive. The scratches and stains on the microfilm show both the photographic process of copying historical documents and bear the marks of the researchers who have scrolled through the microfilm reels before me.

However, these marks are more than just a literal record of prior use.  The empty, scratched microfilm portray the dull, lost feeling one encounters after hours of shifting through papers, scrolling through illegible copies, and painstakingly recording bits of information that may, or may not have any significance. The Microfilm Series echoes a search for facts that can quickly become as ambiguous, inconclusive, and as lost as the past one is seeking to pin down.

The technique I used for these drawings, pen and ink with graphite on goatskin parchment, repeats the tradition of scribes who laboriously copied important texts. In museums while looking at old codices or manuscripts I have often wondered how much of the text was lost with each copying. A story changes with each new telling so there must be changes even in the most meticulous copy, right? At the same time, if there are things that are lost there must also be things that are added.

The microfilm drawings are by extension a questioning of my own process of research and retelling. In an abstract way they belie both my worries about how much of what I’m looking for will always be elusive, and my concerns about what I add to each story as I retell and reinterpret the loose facts I encounter.

 

The Microfilm Series, 2011, pen, ink, & graphite on goatskin parchment, 41 cm x 31 cm.